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© 1987, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


Pelvic measurements in heifers and bulls can be an important tool to help reduce the incidence and severity of calving difficulty. Calving difficulty results in a major economic loss to beef producers. This loss is estimated at $750 million annually nationwide. Calving difficulty increases calf death loss, cow mortality, labor and veterinary costs; it delays the return of cows to estrus and reduces conception rates. It also lowers calf weaning weight and market value, which results from breeding young heifers and cows to easy calving bulls to reduce calving difficulty. Studies show calf losses of 4 percent within 24 hours of birth for calves born unassisted, compared to 16 percent for calves requiring assistance. Montana research indicates 57 percent of all calf losses were due to dystocia (calving difficulty). Calving difficulty is becoming a greater concern for beef producers because of the increased emphasis on rapid growth rates, heavier weaning weights and improved cow efficiency. As producers select bulls for more growth, larger calves at birth and more calving difficulty can be expected.