Date of this Version
24th Range Beef Symposium, Nov. 17-19, 2015, Loveland, Colo.
TAKE HOME MESSAGES
Many things can cause calves to be weak at birth, but dystocia is the single most common cause of compromised calves. Calves born without assistance experience hypoxia (low arterial blood oxygen), acidosis, and frequently hypothermia. Dystocia calves experience the same changes but to a greater degree. Dystocia has an immediate and prolonged effect on the health and productivity of calves. Perinatal mortality due to weakness and dystocia accounts for about half of all calf deaths through weaning and is not due to infectious disease. Simple interventions such as providing calves with mechanical breathing assistance, oxygen, colostrum, and a warm environment for the first few hours after birth can make the difference between life and death. Dystocia monitoring should be implemented on every cattle operation.