Feedback on Calving: Hip-Lock and Assistance During Bovine Labor

MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers respond to a recent calving article, commenting on problems with hip-lock and assistance methods during bovine labor.

| May/June 1975


The first stage of bovine labor (dilation of the cervix) generally takes up to six hours or more, while the second stage (expulsive) occupies up to another six hours. The time span from the moment the feet appear at the vulva to the emergence of the tongue and subsequently the nose will seem interminable if you don't know that it's quite normal. Give the cow a chance to deliver her own baby.


MOTHER EARTH READERS share observations about a recent calving article, discussing the problems with hip-lock, pulling the calf during delivery, and general information on bovine labor. 


Eleanor Wrigley's "Report from Alberta, Canada" (MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 31) mentioned the problem of "hip-lock" in calving. May I offer a suggestion gleaned from a dairy farmer for whom I milked cows? He kept Holsteins and was breeding a lot of the heifers to exotic beef sires. Now, granted, a Holstein heifer is pretty big as heifers go, but the calves were still large enough to cause trouble during birth . . . mainly hip-lock.

One day my dairyman boss told me the following: The average cow's pelvis is not equally wide and deep, and many hip-locked calves will slip out easily if their bodies can be turned 90 degrees. This method also helps alleviate the damage to the hips of the calf which is often caused by forceful pulling . Although I didn't deliver any of the young myself, 1 often watched my employer as he used the above procedure with good success.

Eleanor's suggestion that a cow be bred for offspring of the correct size is surely the safest way to an easy delivery. Problems can, however, arise with any first-calf heifer — including the homesteader's cherished milker-to-be — and the technique of turning the hiplocked fetus is easy and safe for the beginner.

(Incidentally, readers who are raising their own cattle can surely benefit by the use of artificial insemination. Sires are of the highest quality, fees are reasonable, and inseminators are readily available in rural areas. Ask your county extension agent for help in locating this service.)

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