Predictive Measures of Fetal Distress in Calves During Delivery
The effect of birth stress on tongue color, length, and responsiveness was studied in fifty eight calves. The calves were monitored from stage 2 of parturition until birth. Tongue parameters (Tongue color, length, and responsiveness) were measured at two minute intervals. Immediately after birth arterial blood samples were taken and analyzed for PO2, PCO2, pH to establish stress levels as described by Strawn et al. (1996). Calves were then released to the farm management.
Tongue length monitoring was indicative of acidosis in calves. This is due to the loss of muscle control and contractility that occurs during stress. Tongue reflex was shown to be negatively correlated with tongue length. Calves with longer tongues are less responsive to tactile stimulation. While not conclusive, our data strongly suggest that tongue parameters can be useful as predictive measures of stress, but when all three stress indicators are present in the calf (long tongue, reduced reflex, and dark color) it is more definitively indicative of stress than the presence of a single indicator.