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Offline dhs

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Breech Births
« on: March 12, 2009, 10:28:58 PM »
I had my first bad day of calving season today. Had a first calf heifer calve breech. the calf only weighed around 80lbs, but the cord had snapped before I could get it out. I only bring to topic up cause about 90 to 95% of our death loss the past few years has come do to breech birth, it just seem almost impossible to get one out alive in this situation. My question to all is what causes breech births and what do I need to do better when I have one. Thanks for any advice, dhs.

Offline OH Breeder

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2009, 11:12:47 PM »
wish there was an easy answer to this one. Stinks when you loose one however it happens. There was a thread on here sometime back debating the frequency of breach births. Hate to hear you lost one. Hope it gets better for you all.
Life is too short....don't sweat the small stuff.

Offline red

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2009, 06:59:20 AM »
for a while Gypsy & Malinda blamed their increase of breech births on aliens!  <alien>  This was however before we found out the true culprit in SD!
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Offline fluffer

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009, 07:23:37 AM »
I think a lot of things can cause breech births.  #1 is a calf that is too big to turn.  2 would be twins, and 3 would be what is going on with the cord.  If the cord snapped it is possible that the calf just couldn't turn because the cord was wrapped or something.  Although I have never seen a calf born with a cord around its neck or something like you see in babies, I suppose it could happen.

My experience with breech births have been not too bad.  I have saved 2 out of 3 and the one I did not save I think was DOA due to not finding her in time and the calf was the biggest calf I have ever delivered. 

I did save one that should have been dead though.  Who knows how long he had been in the birth canal.  I went out to check cows and the cow was grazing with 2 feet hanging out and the dew claws were up.  I assumed the calf was dead and the cow wouldn't let me near her in the field  so I had to chase her around for a while until I got her caught, had to pull the calf and he flopped out and started breathing. 

Sorry about your calf, sometimes it just happens and there is nothing we can do.

Fluffer
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Offline CAB

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009, 07:34:12 AM »
  Sorry for your loss. There's nothing that you are doing wrong or in that fact you are not doing. Breech births are simply caused by the calf not getting into the correct birthing position. I think that we all kinda have the feelings of why me, or why does this always seem to happen to me, but it happens to all of us if we calve cows long enough or enough of them. If you didn't have anything, you woundn't have anything to lose. That's why the older we get, the more knowledge/experience that we have. Better luck next time. Brent

Offline jbw

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2009, 08:04:48 AM »
When we have a breech I put the extension on the jack. Under normal presentation I work with the cow, with a breech I take it as fast as I can, then hang the calf over a gate to drain it. If not very responsive I will beat the tar out of the calf. Hitting it in the chest. A friend had a big dumb one last year that kept quitting on us, WEAK heart beat and not breathing, I beat on it, he got mad at me, so I Beat the calf again, I got his hear going and the guy sold the calf for $2750. I worked that calf over on and off for 10 minutes. He now does the same thing. That's one example, I've done this numerus times and it seems to work!

Offline red

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2009, 08:07:16 AM »
 (:)) stupid "Red" question. Is a true breech back feet first or butt first?

Red
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Offline GLZ

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2009, 08:10:27 AM »
What are the fastest ways to get a breeched calf out?

Offline Jenny

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2009, 08:20:55 AM »
Having calved out thousands of cows in my career, I have learned to not be afraid of the breech calf.  There are two types of breech births, those with the back legs coming out and then those where there is only a tail coming and the back legs are tucked down into the uterus and those are much more difficult to detect and also to deliver.  
Because you asked about the birth with the legs coming, that is what I will try and explain to you.
The earlier you see the problem and the quicker you can get the cow in and assist, the better the chances are that you will deliver a live calf.  Once the cow is in a chute, reach in and find the tail; be sure the tail is pulled down and tucked down between the legs.  Put the calving chains on the back legs (double hitches), have someone good on the puller to assist you if possible; slowly start to assist the back legs out until you get probably to the hocks; as your helper is on the puller cranking, that leaves you free to have your hand in cow and assure that the calf is coming and the hindquarters are getting  through the pelvis.   You should know by now that all is correct, the position of the calf is correct, the chains are on correctly, the calf is indeed deliverable because he has been coming OK with the assist of the puller.
When the calf's body feels the air as you deliver, the calf's reaction is to breathe which when they are still in the cow, will cause the calf to inhale fluid so you need to deliver asap once you get him to this point.  Have your helper on the puller crank as fast as they can;  position the puller once you get the calf out to the top of the tail so that your end of the puller is on the ground; in other words so that you are pulling the calf out at an angle much more comfortable to the calf than if you were to pull him straight out horizontally.  Delivering as quickly as possible will also give the best chance possible if the cord tears off as it had done for the poster in this instance.
Once you get the calf out, expect it will be fluidy from the backwards delivery.  Hanging it upside down helps with that, but immediate stimulus into the nostrils with a stem of straw or whatever you have at the moment will stimulate it to breathe.
Used to be scared of the breech birth but if you catch them in time and deliver as described, the survival rate is very, very good.

Offline Chap

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2009, 08:31:55 AM »
True breach is butt first with no legs, backwards is back feet first.  Had a set of twins last night that were both true breach.  I don't mess around with them,  called the vet and saved them both.  A true breach presents lots of problems.  Most importantly the cow will not show normal signs of calving.  Most often the breach calf will block the birth canal and water bag, etc will not show prior to labor.  We managed to catch this one last night due to dilegent checking.  she had some light bloody discharge and was holding her tail out.  calves were 5 days early out of Alias and a 1/2 blood Char/angus cow.  We got her in, felt a tail and called the vet.  After some serious battle Doc retrieved 2 back legs and we extracted him backwards.  18 degrees last night, so as I was toweling the calf off, he reaches in and finds #2, also breach.  He gets legs postitioned, delivers a 2nd bull calf back legs first and momma has accepted both and they are doing well this morning.

Offline kanshow

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2009, 08:37:11 AM »
We don't have much trouble with legs back breech - like another poster said.. it is important to get them out as quickly as possible.      The butt first breeches are a different story & the couple times we've had them, we've done sections.  

Has anyone else noticed if the breech calves tend to be a little bigger?   Or if there is any heretability?    We had one cow that had a breech calf several years in a row.    We kept her daughter and she's had a couple breech calves.     Our other breech calves have been pretty random.

Offline OH, HSC

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2009, 08:49:33 AM »
 In my experience, there is some very good advice on this topic. One thing that I do when I see a breech is to put the cow in the chute and basically push the calf back in until I am sure that she is dialated. I belive this keeps the cord from breaking prematurely. Then I hook the chains and jack and pull them as quickly as possible. I agree with the slapping and trying to suck out the airway. I'm not convinced that hanging them upside down or over a gate is the best route. To me, a weak breather does not need all the weight of its intestines shoving against the diaphram and lungs. When pulling a breech, be confident that you can get and quickly. Otherwise I would opt for a C-Section. I am speaking from experience. Back in February we had a cow at my Dad's place that had a huge set of feet coming backwards. Upon examination, I told him that we should do a C-Section. He didn't want to and the end result was a very good 148 lb Paddy o' Malley that lived two days and a cow that prolapsed/tore her vaginal wall. We literally squeezed the crap out of the calf on the way out.
By the way, our vet is 3 for 3 on C-Sections with all cows now producing in the herd, and the calves all sold. If the calf is worth it, go this route in the big cases. The only problem with C-Secting backwards calves is that they have to be rolled inside the uterus, to place them where the uterus can be cut and repaired. Point..... make sure the vet knows what he or she is doing.

There are some backwards calves that I believe that you just can't save, so don't feel bad. If memory serves me right we are 5 for 7 on backwards calves. We have had 2 backwards calves out of 15 for each of the last two years. All of them were big, 148, 133, 105, 107, leading to what was mentioned earlier, in that they don't have room to turn. Of these the 148 and 133 were lost. Each lived less than two days.

Keep your spirits up, and realize this is going to happen to anyone who stays in it long enough. My advice, try to learn from each experience good or bad. It will make you better in the future.

Offline Jenny

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2009, 09:41:18 AM »
Just a note on draining the fluid from the calf; do not hang them over a gate, best way to get the fluid out is to lift the calf up by the back legs off the ground and swing it around in a circle making the fluid drain out by the force of the guts pushing on the lungs/airways. (need at least a couple strong guys for this)   Have seen copious amounts of fluid drain out this way. byw, some breech calves do not need draining at all.

Offline oakbar

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2009, 11:09:44 AM »
A true breech birth(butt first) is a very hard thing to deal with.   The biggest problem for me is knowing when to get involved because, if you don't know its breech, you are probably going to wait to see how the process progresses and sometime wait long enough that the calf is already in bad shape before you get started.   Sometimes the cow's uterus can also be torn and then you've really got a bad situation on your hands.   My cousin, who I work closely with on his cattle,  just lost a commercial heifer and her calf  the night before last in just this way.   He saw she was starting to labor so he thought he'd give her a while to progress.  He came back to check on her an hour or so later and she hadn't made much progress so he gave her another 30-45 minutes.  When he came back the second time and saw no progress he decided to get the vet involved.   When they actually got in to find out what was wrong they found the calf was butt first and had shredded the heifer's uterus.  The calf was already dead and the cow bled out before they could do much about it.

In this case, I would have done everything exactly the same way he did.   Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and there really wasn't much that could be done about it at that point.   Sometimes those things just happen in spite of our best efforts.   I lost a cow and calf  in exactly the same way a few years ago---the first really pretty colored blue roan calf that I'd ever had on top of it all.  Its really disappointing but it really can't always be prevented.

We have delivered calves back feet first several times---as many have said already the key is to get them out fast so the umbilical cord isn't pinched too long and get the fluid out of their lungs ASAP.    Good luck to everyone during the calving season---I hope you don't have any true breech births at the very least!!
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Offline Jenny

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Re: Breech Births
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2009, 11:55:52 AM »
Have delivered the butt first calves a number of times also;with  the number of cows we calve, we pretty much "micro-manage" them; if they have not made progess in 15-20 minutes or if we do not know how long they have been calving or if they have nothing but blood on their tail...ie. something not looking perfectly right, they go into a chute and get palpated.  So we do find them before they are in bad shape. 
Do not believe the uterus gets "shredded", but believe you are talking about a uterine rupture which happens when a cow has been laboring too long with no progress.
To deliver a full breech calf, I take one hand and reach in and push the butt end of the calf forward as much as possible, and then reach in with my other arm and go down, following the leg until I can reach the foot.  Then you cup your hand around the hoof (to prevent the hoof from tearing the uterus), push as hard as you can with the other hand to push the calf forward so to give yourself as much room as possible to pull that hoof up to the pelvis.  Then you do the same with the other foot/hoof and after you have both feet up into the pelvis you proceed as I described in my first post, cause now you have a typical  backwards calf.
To deliver a full breech calf can be very, very difficult.  Without a block, the cow strains against you while you are working on the delivery, it takes long, slender arms and good hands and an incredible amount of strength sometimes to get those back feet up; but in the deliveries I have done or watched the vet do, we have never had a uterine tear and more often than not delivered a live calf.  With this type of delivery problem, early detection is the hugest key to success.

 

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