Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version

December 1997


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XV December 9, 10 and 11, 1997, Rapid City, South Dakota.


The recognition of abnormal calving (dystocia) comes FIRST from a basic understanding of normal calving. From this understanding, the establishment of guidelines for observation of cattle and for intervention will reduce calf losses. In Colorado, as part of a pilot program of the National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS), two-thirds of the costs of disease losses were associated with death loss. From a subset of 73 of the 86 NAHMS herds in studied in 1986- 87 in 24,396 births, 4.5% of the calves were lost. Of the 4.5% losses, 34% were attributed to dystocia related losses. In addition, losses attributed to diarrhea, pneumonia, or cold may have been a consequence of the increased risks associated with dystocia. On most operations this is a very effective area where personnel training in obstetrical management will have a large beneficial impact. Most large operations have a labor turnover and small operations sometimes don't see enough problems to feel comfortable handling them. Thus, this training should be an ongoing part of the management program.