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Cow Care After the Loss of a Calf

| Updated September 26, 2017

Cows that have just lost their newborn calves require monitoring and, in certain cases, intervention to various degrees. According to David J. Patterson from the Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, the majority of calf deaths occur up to 24 hours following calving. Cows that have lost their calves should be separated into quiet quarters and typically benefit from antibiotic treatment. In all cases, it is advisable that a veterinarian examine the cow after the loss of a calf.

Monitor the cow for signs that she is preparing to expel the placenta, or afterbirth. The inability or difficulty to pass the placenta is included among the complications that can arise after a cow has lost her calf.

Move the cow to a quiet and clean area and have an assistant remain in the vicinity of the cow, to remove the placenta so that the cow is not able to eat it.

Monitor the cow for any immediately visible protrusions from the vagina, which may be as small as a human fist, but could also involve the entire uterus. This condition is normally associated with a prolonged or difficult calving and is therefore often seen in cows that have lost calves. Such a prolapsed uterus will present itself anywhere from 12 hours after losing the calf.

Call the veterinarian immediately if you suspect a prolapsed uterus. The middle uterine arteries may tear if the cow experiences a prolapsed uterus, and she could bleed to death. This condition is therefore a medical emergency and requires the attention of a veterinarian.

Milk the cow after the loss of her calf, as it will not be nursing from her and her udder will need to be relieved of milk. Alternatively, request the veterinarian to administer a drug to dry up the milk.

Request that a veterinarian examine the cow after the loss of her calf, regardless of whether other complications arise. In most cases the veterinarian will administer an antibiotic as a precaution.