Pelvic Measurements: Applications in Beef Cattle Practice Today
Dystocia (difficult calving) is a major cause of loss for beef cattle producers. It results in an increased incidence of calf mortality at or near birth, increased cow mortality, and higher veterinary and labor costs. In one study, calf loss within 24 hours of birth was 4% when heifers gave birth unassisted, 16% when calving difficulty ensued. Of the calves that died at or near calving, 57% of these were attributed to dystocia.2Another study revealed that heifers calving unassisted weaned 70% of their calves; heifers needing assistance calving weaned 59%. Dystocia also results in delayed return to estrus and decreased conception rate in heifers and cows subsequent to their calving difficulty. Pregnancy rates following first calving in one study were 85% for heifers calving unassisted and 69% for heifers that had dystocia. Subsequent weaning rates for heifers that underwent dystocia in their first calving were !4% lower than for their non-dystocia counterparts.