Ask the Vet

Prolapse May be a Reason to Cull

There are different types of prolapse in cattle, some call for culling females out of the herd. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Becky Mills)


We had a heifer that was in labor for several hours before we found her. The calf's head was back. Our veterinarian corrected that and delivered a live calf, but the heifer prolapsed her whole uterus. We cleaned it up and got it back in. She and the calf are doing fine. What are the chances of her doing this again the next time she calves?


Uterine prolapse, at least in my hands, almost always occurs after a difficult birth. It is an emergency that must be handled quickly and gently. If the large artery that feeds the uterus ruptures, the cow will bleed out internally and die very quickly.

That's the bad news. The good news is that if the cow breeds back, she is not significantly more likely to prolapse again unless she has another difficult birth. I always like to recheck these cows a few weeks after calving to make sure there is no uterine infection and if there is, treat it.

This is different from vaginal or cervical prolapse. Those conditions most often occur before birth but can also occur after calving. They are inherited conditions and tend to recur. Those cattle should be culled and any heifers in the herd critically evaluated. I would say they have at least one strike against them as culling decisions are made.