Ask the Vet

Heifer That Prolapsed May Be a Keeper

If a cow breeds back after a uterine prolapse, she is not likely to prolapse again unless she has a difficult birth. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

READER QUESTION:

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 she and the calf are doing fine. What are the chances of her doing this again?

DR. MCMILLAN'S ANSWER:

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.

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Editor's Note:

Please contact your veterinarian with questions pertaining to the health of your herd or other animals. Every operation is unique, and the information in this column does not pertain to all situations. This is not intended as medical advice but is purely for informational purposes.

Write Dr. Ken McMillan at Ask The Vet, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email vet@progressivefarmer.com.