Calving and Dystocia

The 3 Stages of Parturition

Stage 1    
    During this stage, the two main events are dilation of the cervix and contraction of the uterine muscles.  This stage is likely to go unnoticed in the cow.  These changes may occur 4 to 24 hours prior to parturition.  At the end of Stage 1 there may be some behavioral changes such as swishing the tail, increased mucous discharge and elevation of the tail.

Stage 2
    This is the stage of parturition in which the calf is born, beginning with the emergence of the fetal membranes and the fetus into the pelvic canal and ending with the completed birth of the calf.  In the bovine, this stage lasts from 2-4 hours.  It should be noted that Stage 2 in the bovine is much longer than that of the equine (less than 30 minutes).  Heifers may have a longer Stage 2 than cows since their pelvic opening is smaller and their soft tissues haven't been expanded.  The calf should be born in a dorsosacral position with an anterior presentation.  

Stage 3
    The third stage is the shedding of the fetal membranes.  In a normal cow this occurs in less than 8-12 hours.  The placenta is considered retained if it hasn't been shed after 12 hours.

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Copyright 1999-2001
New Bolton Center Field Service Department
Students:  Keith Javic - Class of 2003, C. Nikki Conroy - Class of 2003