calf coming head first, no feet question?

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calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby mncowboy » Thu Feb 26, 2015 12:48 am

If a calf is deceased while still inside the cow, does it increase the odd's of the calf coming, head first, or head and one foot first vs coming feet first?
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby dun » Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:39 am

I would think it's more of a cause and affect. The malpresentation being why the calf is dead
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby regolith » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:21 am

If the calf dies before moving into position for calving, it's going to come out just however it's lying, is my experience.
So yes, death pre-calving does increase the likelihood of malpresentations.

Headfirst seems to be a rare one in cattle - saw plenty of it assisting on sheep farms, but I know for sure I've pulled one calf that was presented that way, not certain if there might have been a second. Out of thousands of calvings over twenty plus years.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby Putangitangi » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:52 am

I've had about three dead before calving which all have presented head first with their legs back down along their bodies. It took some work to get those feet up to get them out! A couple of dead ones came out the right way, but maybe they died during delivery, rather than before it began. If a calf comes out head first, I've concluded that it was not alive to participate in getting itself ready by putting its feet where they ought to be. Such is my experience supported by various other signs that death hadn't just occurred during the birth.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby cowgirl8 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:44 am

We had this one the other day. It was a heifer and her labor seemed normal. Had her up in a pen just in case and after dark we went to look at her progress..Never good when the feet are like this. Got the calf pulled quickly, husband performed CPR (just chest compressions) I cleaned mouth and nose. As he was pushing on the calf's chest, i noticed a familiar sight i saw once, its belly seemed water filled and jiggly. And, i knew i shouldnt do it, but i did it anyway, i smelled my hand....AGHHHHHHHHH. The calf had been dead a day or two.. You cant get that smell off.
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Not sure if the death of this calf is the cause of him being breach. We've had breach before that were live. If the heifer had been in labor for a long time and left like this, i could see that it would eventually be the death of it, but it could be the calf died a few days and had not gotten into position. He was not overly big, maybe 60 pounds, so who knows. Live he may have been normal presentation..
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby Lucky_P » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:10 am

cowgirl,
Just helping you get your terminology correct...what you've shown is not breech, but a 'posterior presentation' - calf coming back legs first.
Breech presentation is butt/tail first - with those, you have repel(push) the calf forward, and get the rear legs pulled up, so that the calf can be delivered in posterior presentation.

Textbooks say posterior presentation is not an 'abnormal' presentation; I disagree. Yeah, they can deliver 'em that way, on their own, but they've gotta get 'em out in a hurry, or they die. Once that umbilical cord is compressed as it enters the birth canal, you've got just a few minutes to get 'em out.
Last edited by Lucky_P on Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby cowgirl8 » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:13 am

Lucky_P wrote:cowgirl,
Just helping you get your terminology correct...what you've shown is not breech, but a 'posterior presentation' - calf coming back legs first.
Breech presentation is butt/tail first - with those, you have repel(push) the calf forward, and get the rear legs pulled up, so that the calf can be delivered in posterior presentation.

Good to know....
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby greybeard » Thu Feb 26, 2015 3:32 pm

Lucky_P wrote:cowgirl,
Just helping you get your terminology correct...what you've shown is not breech, but a 'posterior presentation' - calf coming back legs first.
Breech presentation is butt/tail first - with those, you have repel(push) the calf forward, and get the rear legs pulled up, so that the calf can be delivered in posterior presentation.

Textbooks say posterior presentation is not an 'abnormal' presentation; I disagree. Yeah, they can deliver 'em that way, on their own, but they've gotta get 'em out in a hurry, or they die. Once that umbilical cord is compressed as it enters the birth canal, you've got just a few minutes to get 'em out.

Yep--and I've seen people say they push them way back in and turn them completely around but I just can't see that being a viable or even possible option at all--dead or live delivery.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby milkmaid » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:09 pm

I've seen quite a few head first/head and one leg presentations; fixed a few this past week. Some were presented that way because the calf died, some because of a lack of room (calf too large, calf in 575 lb feeder heifer, twins, etc).

I like the head-first presentation much, much, better than a true breech.

greybeard- At this stage of my experience, there's no way I'd push feet back out of reach to try turning the entire calf around. :o It might be possible if you're 6'5" and have arms to match, but I'm not and wouldn't chance it.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby regolith » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:54 am

I can't see the point of turning a breech. Sounds like a good chance you'd get a twisted uterus or a head back calf in the process. I'd much rather deal with a full breech than a head back.
One front leg out, one back seems more common, I couldn't count how many of those I've seen. And the really annoying ones - normal presentation with one or both legs slightly bent, so you can't figure why the calf isn't falling out but you straighten a leg and out it falls.

Really, the only good option for turning a breech must be if the calf was so huge you knew you couldn't pull it alive backwards, in which case surely a caesarean would be less risky?
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby Lucky_P » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:37 am

Can't imagine being able to push a breech calf back in and turn it around, and get head/front legs all lined up for a delivery. Would say that the likelihood of someone being able to do so is 1 in a million - if not longer odds.
Repel 'em, get the rear legs pulled up, and jack 'em out backwards as quickly as possible.

Then, we get into the ol' 'hang 'em over a gate to drain the fluid out of their lungs' thing. I've done it. It's not necessary. There's really not much fluid in a calf's lungs - the potential air spaces are pretty much collapsed until it takes a breath. Probably easier for that calf to get those first breaths without all its abdominal organs pressing down on its diaphragm. Really; don't do it; it doesn't help.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby talltimber » Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:24 pm

Good info guys. I hope I don't have these types of problems, but I'm certain I will one day/night. Maybe I can remember some of it when the time comes. I don't expect to have a lot of help in the veterinarian area. It's sad that the cattle have no more help than what they do around here, vet wise.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby Putangitangi » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:09 pm

Lucky_P wrote:...Then, we get into the ol' 'hang 'em over a gate to drain the fluid out of their lungs' thing. I've done it. It's not necessary. There's really not much fluid in a calf's lungs - the potential air spaces are pretty much collapsed until it takes a breath. Probably easier for that calf to get those first breaths without all its abdominal organs pressing down on its diaphragm. Really; don't do it; it doesn't help.
I've been arguing that one with people for some years since reading some research on doing it or not which found as you've written: pressure on the diaphragm just stops them getting on with what they need to do. But people persist with what they believe to be true, rather than accepting good evidence against it. Even a vet I've had here still advises that as best practice ... and I said no.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby Angus106 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 9:46 am

I had a heifer calf last year come head first. Fortunately I was able to push the head back some and get the legs up and out. Calf was fine. It sure made me nervous though, first one like that.
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Re: calf coming head first, no feet question?

Postby cowgirl8 » Mon Mar 02, 2015 1:32 pm

I remember the first time i saw someone pull a calf, probably 40 years ago. I remember they were all panicked, nervous.. They got it pulled and someone yelled, you have to swing it. So one of them grabbed the calf and started swinging it around by its back legs. The poor thing clunked its head everywhere because it was too long for the area we were in and really too big for one person to handle. I just remember thinking it was the dumbest thing i'd ever seen. Since, i've seen a vet do it, and several others(not with any of our calves though).
All i do is a sweep with my finger in their mouth to get any globs out, i clear their nose if i can see something that needs clearing and i rub their backs. The calf i pictured had no heart beat. Husband is a fireman and jumped into chest compressions, its kind of automatic for him..lol But with breathing, running your finger down their back stimulates their whole body and gets them going. Soon as i know its good to go, i let the cow take over.
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