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Correcting a Malpresentation

Tips for pushing a calf back into the uterus.

In some dystocia situations the calf is not entering the birth canal properly, and cannot be born until you push it back into the uterus to reposition it.

When you put your hand and arm into the cow, this stimulates her to strain and push everything against you. If you push hardest during the moments she’s not straining, and just try to hold ground as she strains, it will be easier.

The simplest way to push a calf back into the uterus where there’s more room to reposition it is to continually lean your weight against the calf, rather than pushing and wearing yourself out. Put your hand on the calf’s head, breastbone, rump or whatever is being presented in the birth canal and lean steadily. Each time the cow quits straining for a moment, you’ll gain a few inches.

Curtis Koehn

The simplest way to push a calf back into the uterus where there’s more room to reposition it is to continually lean your weight against the calf, rather than pushing and wearing yourself out.

If you have a helper, he/she can hold the cow’s tail straight up over her back and push it forward at the base, says Michael Thomas, a rancher near Baker, Idaho. If enough pressure is put on the tail in that position, it will inhibit the cow’s ability to strain.

It’s easier to manipulate a calf if the cow is standing up rather than lying down, with the weight of her abdomen on the uterus. However, if she goes down and won’t get up, one trick that can help is to pull her hind legs straight out behind her.

“This forces her to lie on her belly, stifles and brisket,” says Thomas. “You need a helper to straddle her back (facing to the rear) to hold her tail straight up over her back.”

Having her hind legs out behind her, resting on her stifles, puts her hindquarters a little higher than her front end with gravity in your favor instead of against you.

After you have pushed/leaned on the calf enough to get it back into the uterus, reposition the cow onto her right side instead of on her belly.

“You want her on her side so she can strain more effectively and help you deliver the calf,” says Thomas.

When it’s a challenge to manipulate the calf because the cow is straining hard against you, some veterinarians use an epidural block, an anesthetic injected into the spinal column, to keep her from straining.

“With an epidural, you don’t have to fight her contractions, which are frustrating when you are just about to get a leg or head turned and she gives a big push and you lose it again. But an epidural eliminates any help the cow can give you after you get the calf straightened out,” says Thomas.

Another trick that works, especially if you are working by yourself and don’t have any help, involves use of a nasogastric tube. Shelie Laflin, a Kansas veterinarian, says that if you know how to use one of these tubes — putting it into the nostril, to the back of the throat where the animal swallows it, then pushing it down into the stomach — you can pass the tube just like you were going to administer fluids, only this time allow it to start into the trachea instead of the esophagus.

“If you leave it there, a little ways into the trachea (and tie it to the cow’s halter so it stays in place) while you are trying to correct the calf’s position, the cow cannot push against you,” says Laflin. She is focused on the object in her throat and will not strain.

“This works really slick, when you don’t have an epidural or any way to stop her straining. If the calf has a head back, or a leg back, or some other problem you have to correct, this allows you to get it done quicker and easier. Then once you get the calf in position, just pull the tube out of her trachea and she can then push and help you again,” explains Laflin.

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Editor’s Note: Heather Smith Thomas is a cattlewoman and freelance writer from Salmon, Idaho.



 

 

 

 

 

 





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