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Caesarean Cows – Breed Again?

22 April 2021

For those of you with cows that have had caesarean sections this spring, the question you may be asking yourself, is whether or not you rebreed these cows again.  The likelihood of a cow getting back in calf after a caesarean is fairly high (with success rates measured on a case to case basis) depending on how well the procedure went and the cow receiving the right aftercare.

Before deciding to put the cow back to the bull this year, cast your mind back to why a caesarean section was needed in the first place.  Was the calf too big?  Calf malpresentation?  Or was the cow/heifer pelvis too small/narrow?

A pre breeding vet check is advisable before turning these cows out with the bull to check that the cow is cycling and to access adhesions and scaring which can impact on fertility.

The age of the animal may also influence your decision.  If she is an older cow then it’s likely that she has bred well within the herd and been a productive animal so this may be the time to cull her.  However if the cow is a younger animal or a heifer then you may decide to run her with the bull again.  Also consider body condition at calving.  If animals were too fit at calving then this will have had an impact on calving and it maybe that effectively managing body condition scores going forward will help mitigate the number of caesareans required.

Remember that the cow is only half the story.  The bull has an impact on calving, the size of calf and calving ease.  It might be that a particular bull is leaving large calves which cannot be born naturally.  With bulls going out with cows soon, if not already it’s extremely valuable to make a note of which cows run with each bull.  By knowing the sire of the calf a bad calving bull or a bull leaving big calves can be easily identified.

Sarah Balfour,

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