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Tails of a bovine midwife-Maurenne's Cow/Calf Stories


Bovine Uterine Prolapse

An almost certain death for women, almost commonplace in Hereford cows.  All you need is a trash bag, epidural anesthesia,  some umbilical tape with a needle and a fast veterinarian to fix the problem.

Uterine prolapses occur at or shortly after calving.  Many times they occur with a difficult birth.  The uterus is literally pulled through the birth canal with the calf or the afterbirth and again exposed to the weather elements, potential injury, and certainly infectious agents. 

Miss Piggy had a rough time birthing her 89 pound heifer.  It seemed like she had been pushing for at least 30 minutes with little progress. She was giving all she had but she needed a little help.  puffy1.gif (4851 bytes)We had kind of expected that we would have some calving problems as our heifers had been bred to our bull Victor, who was about 2000 pounds and had weighed 95 pounds at birth himself.

As I held her tail to keep her from kicking Carl, he looped each of the OB chains around the calf's front hocks and attached the handles to the chains.  He pulled as she pushed with a contraction and realized quickly that it was going to take both of us pulling and Miss Piggy pushing with all her might to help her birth this calf.

We got her to lay down in the hay in our calving shed.  She was so tired.  We sat down behind her beside each other in the hay, each of us having an OB handle in our hands.  After 5 or 6 good contractions and pulling, she birthed a hefty calf...and a hefty placenta and membranes, and her hefty, tired uterus, turned inside out, right behind it.  We tried to replace it but it wasn't going back in.

Fortunately, the calf was doing well and as Carl attended to the calf, I was calling our large animal vet, Dr. Jacobsen.  When he arrived, he and Carl helped her sit up almost like a dog would sit and tied her back legs to the calving shed.  We placed a clean garbage bag underneath her uterus, which was bigger than a basketball.  We used warm water with some betadine to cleanse the hay, manure and other accoutrements from her uterus. 

Dr. Jacobsen administered some epidural anesthesia to Miss Piggy.  He used 10 mL of Lidocaine inserted just above her tailhead into the epidural space.  It worked pretty quickly.  In a few minutes, he and Carl had pushed her uterus back inside.  Dr. Jacobsen then stitched her vulva shut with a large needle and some umbilical tape.  This keeps her uterus from falling back out.  He also administered some IM oxytocin to keep her uterus well contracted and some Penicillin to prevent infection. Other than this complication, Miss Piggy's postpartum course went well.

Uterine prolapses, when repaired by proper veterinary attention, can have a very successful result.  Cows with properly cared for uterine prolapses are no more likely than others to have a prolapse next year. 

Because of the trauma, possible infection, and recovery time, cows with a uterine prolapse may take longer to re-conceive for the next year's calf.  This often means that these cows will be late-bred or non-pregnant at weaning time when pregnancy checks are made.  This may be a viable reason for culling these cows, but keeping pregnant cows that have experienced a uterine prolapse is not a bad risk. 

I'm happy to say that Miss Piggy, who is always happy to see me when I have food, is expecting her second calf this March.

Updated 02/08/2001

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