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Induction of parturition

294. The indications for induction of parturition can be broadly divided into therapeutic and managemental. Of the latter, the most common are induction of abortion in early gestation (usually to terminate unwanted pregnancies) and induction of parturition close to full-term (as a means of preventing excessive foetal growth associated with gestations prolonged beyond 282 days). It has been suggested that this could also be used as a management tool to synchronise parturition. However, in a number of cases where parturition is induced, there is the risk of retention of the placenta (afterbirth) which may lead to infection of the uterus, possible future reproductive failure and loss of milk production. Induction of parturition should therefore be avoided unless the welfare of the cow or calf is likely to be improved.

Recommendations

295. Animals should not be mated too young or mated by an inappropriate sire.

296. The induction of parturition should never be used as a routine procedure. Correct nutrition and sire selection should be the first option and will minimise the need for this technique. However, as a last resort, it may be considered as a way of preventing cows from having to deliver grossly oversized calves.

297. Induction of parturition should not be used as a management tool if this involves induction well before full-term and production of very premature, unviable calves.