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When Does a Cow In Labor Need Help?

By   /  February 19, 2018  /  1 Comment

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How do you know when a cow is labor is having trouble? How do you know when to start helping her?

Well, research done over 30 years ago at Oklahoma State University and at the Agricultural Research Service Laboratory in Miles City, Montana has some answers for us. They looked at how long “stage two” labor normally lasts for beef cows and two-year-old heifers to help us figure out when things aren’t going as they should.

As Dr. Glen Selk describes in this 3:30 minute video, stage two begins with the appearance of the water bag and ends with a live baby calf on the ground. For two-year-old heifers, the average time was 55 minutes. For mature cows that had calved before, it was much shorter, lasting only 22 minutes. In the video he describes how you can use that information to determine when it’s time to check a cow and see if it needs help.

If you’ve got experience with calving, kidding and lambing that could be helpful to your fellow readers, do share in the comments below, or in an email to us.


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About the author

editor and contributor

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.

1 Comment

  1. Richard says:

    We talked at home last week about needing to up our game before and during calving. Thanks for this helpful info, Kathy! Here’s the link to the article referred to, in the video. Includes explanations and pics on pulling calves.

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