Cow-Calf Corner – Backward Calves (2/22/20)

Cow-Calf Corner – Backward Calves (2/22/20)


(upbeat music) – As we go through this
or any calving season, any rancher that’s been in the business for a long period of time has had that experience of
examining a cow or a heifer that’s having trouble delivering a calf, and finding that it’s the
hind feet coming first, rather than the head and the front feet. In other words, that backwards calf. The statistics say that
about 1.6% of all calvings will be backwards. Well, when we find that that
calf is coming backwards, I think we need to understand
both the anatomy of the cow and the calf, as well as
the importance of time. And the thing I really
want you to concentrate on as you look at this slide
depicting a caw coming backwards, look at the position of where
the tail-head of the calf is. In relationship, also look at where the umbilical vessels are. When that calf is being delivered, once his hips get through
the pelvic opening, the birth canal, and you can
see that baby calf’s tail-head on the outside of the cow, that means that those umbilical vessels have been taken over the pelvic rim and are now being pinched off. His ability to get oxygen from his mother, his ability to get rid of carbon
dioxide back to the mother is totally impaired. Then you remember, that calf’s
head, at this point in time, is still in a fluid-filled
sac, so he can’t breathe. What this means is that once we see that baby calf’s tail-head,
when we’re working with this backwards calf,
we’ve got about four minutes to get that calf completely delivered and to get him started breathing. There was actually some research
done years and years ago in Europe that looked at what happened when they clamped off that umbilical cord and they showed that four
minutes was about the max that they could do that and
still get the calf to survive. I think that’s important
for us to remember as we’re working with these calves that, once in a while, we’ll find
they’re coming backwards. If you go ahead and examine
and find that that calf is coming backwards, but
we haven’t pulled the hips through the pelvic opening,
you still have some time to work with because
at that point in time, those umbilical vessels
aren’t pinched off. That’s the time you want to go ahead and find a neighbor or a family member or even call your local veterinarian to have help on hand so that
you can deliver that calf as quickly as possible. Don’t wait until you
get the calf partially through the pelvic opening, get stuck, and then have trouble delivering the calf. One more thing, if you reach in there and you’re examining a cow
or heifer that’s struggling and you find that you just
are feeling the buttocks and the tail of the
calf, but no legs at all, that’s a breech delivery,
and quite frankly, most of us don’t have the capability of delivering that calf on our own. It’s probably going to have
to be delivered via c-section by a veterinarian. Call your local large animal veterinarian as quickly as possible and
get that cow some help. The timing, again, is very, very important and we’ll have a better
chance of saving both the cow and the calf if you’ll
get that professional help as soon as possible. If you’d like to look at more information about working with these cows
and heifers at calving time, I urge you to go to the SUNUP website. Again, that’s sunup.okstate.edu. Look under Show Links and
there’s a link to our pamphlet. It’s calling Calving Time Management for Beef Cows and Heifers. Gives you a lot of information about working with these
cattle at calving time. Hey, we look forward to visiting
with you again next week on SUNUP’s Cow-Calf Corner. (upbeat music)

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