Beef heifers experience calving difficulty, or dystocia, more frequently than do mature cows. Dystocia is characterized by prolonged or difficult labor due to heavy birthweight and/or small pelvic area of the dam. Death of these calves, and sometimes their dams, is a result of injuries received during difficult delivery. This obviously reduces calf crop and potential profits. Cows that experience dystocia also have lower rebreeding rates than animals that have normal, unassisted deliveries. Consequently, producers should make every effort to avoid dystocia.
Causes of Dystocia. There are a number of factors that influence dystocia; fortunately most of them can be controlled through good management practices.