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Clinical signs and outcomes of beef cattle undergoing cesarean section because of dystocia

Mark W. H. HiewDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Aubrey N. BairdDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.

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Peter D. ConstableDepartment of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61802.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To characterize signalment, clinical signs, reproductive history, surgical management, and outcomes of beef cattle undergoing cesarean section because of dystocia at a veterinary teaching hospital.

DESIGN Retrospective case series with nested cohort study.

ANIMALS 173 beef cattle admitted to a veterinary teaching hospital from 2001 through 2010 that underwent cesarean section because of dystocia.

PROCEDURES Medical records were reviewed and information collected on cattle signalment; reproductive history; cause of dystocia; anesthetic protocol; surgical management; number, sex, and body weight of calves delivered (alive or dead); perioperative treatment; duration of hospitalization; and discharge status. A questionnaire regarding postoperative fertility was mailed to all owners, and owners who did not respond were contacted via telephone.

RESULTS Overall mortality rate for calves was high, with 37.6% (62/165) of calves delivered dead or dying ≤ 24 hours after cesarean section. Mortality rate was higher for female versus male calves and for calves from dams with signs of labor for ≥ 3 hours versus < 3 hours before hospital admission. Overall mortality rate for dams was low, with only 10 of 161 (6.2%) dams failing to survive for ≥ 21 days after hospital discharge. Postoperative fertility rate was acceptable, with 75% (44/59) of dams that were rebred after cesarean section giving birth to ≥ 1 live calf.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Cesarean section was a clinically useful method for resolving dystocia in beef cattle, providing a high dam survival rate and an acceptable postoperative fertility rate. Beef cattle producers should seek veterinary assistance whenever clinical signs of dystocia are noticed, preferably within 6 hours after onset of parturition.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To characterize signalment, clinical signs, reproductive history, surgical management, and outcomes of beef cattle undergoing cesarean section because of dystocia at a veterinary teaching hospital.

DESIGN Retrospective case series with nested cohort study.

ANIMALS 173 beef cattle admitted to a veterinary teaching hospital from 2001 through 2010 that underwent cesarean section because of dystocia.

PROCEDURES Medical records were reviewed and information collected on cattle signalment; reproductive history; cause of dystocia; anesthetic protocol; surgical management; number, sex, and body weight of calves delivered (alive or dead); perioperative treatment; duration of hospitalization; and discharge status. A questionnaire regarding postoperative fertility was mailed to all owners, and owners who did not respond were contacted via telephone.

RESULTS Overall mortality rate for calves was high, with 37.6% (62/165) of calves delivered dead or dying ≤ 24 hours after cesarean section. Mortality rate was higher for female versus male calves and for calves from dams with signs of labor for ≥ 3 hours versus < 3 hours before hospital admission. Overall mortality rate for dams was low, with only 10 of 161 (6.2%) dams failing to survive for ≥ 21 days after hospital discharge. Postoperative fertility rate was acceptable, with 75% (44/59) of dams that were rebred after cesarean section giving birth to ≥ 1 live calf.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Cesarean section was a clinically useful method for resolving dystocia in beef cattle, providing a high dam survival rate and an acceptable postoperative fertility rate. Beef cattle producers should seek veterinary assistance whenever clinical signs of dystocia are noticed, preferably within 6 hours after onset of parturition.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix s1 (PDF 570 kb)

Contributor Notes

Dr. Hiew's present address is Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia.

Address correspondence to Dr. Hiew (mark@upm.edu.my).