Ask the Vet

Umbilical Hernias in Calves

There are times when umbilical hernias in calves call for surgical corrections. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Jim Patrico)


We have had several calves over the past few years with what we think are hernias at their navels. They have done fine, but just have big belly buttons. Is this a problem?


What you are describing sounds like an umbilical hernia. It is actually a hole in the body wall where the placenta attaches to the calf.

Small hernias may only contain omentum, a lace-like tissue that covers the intestines.

In these cases, the body wall may heal around the tissue, creating the condition you describe.

Larger hernia sacs may contain intestines, the true stomach or other organs. This would need to be surgically corrected before the organs become strangulated or trapped in the hernia sac. If this occurs, blood supply is lost and the calf will die.

I recommend you have the calves evaluated to see if surgical corrections are actually needed.