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Is there an association between calving-related injuries of the soft birth canal and infections of the uterus in primiparous dairy cows?

Is there an association between calving-related injuries of the soft birth canal and infections of the uterus in primiparous dairy cows?

 

N. Gundling1, H. Marien1, W. Hasseler2, M. Feldmann3, K. Herzog4, M. Hoedemaker1

 

1 Clinic for Cattle, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Germany, natascha.gundling@tiho-hannover.de

2 Joint Veterinary Practice, Papenburg, Germany

3 Bovine Health Service, Vetsuisse-Faculty, University of Zurich, Switzerland

4Department for Animal Welfare Service, Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, Oldenburg, Germany

 

Background.

Dystocia with subsequent injuries of the soft birth canal is an unavoidable challenge in heifers (Funell and Hilton, 2016). The aim of this study was to investigate the association between calving-related injuries of the soft birth canal and infections of the uterus in heifers.

 

Methods.

The study took place on a large dairy farm in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. In 230 heifers (German Holstein) all injuries of the soft birth canal were scored according to localisation, depth and length on the first day post partum (p.p.). The injuries were categorized into no, mild and severe injuries. The occurrence of metritis at day 10 p.p. and endometritis at day 21 p.p. was classified according to Sheldon et al. (2009).

 

Results.

The incidence of metritis at day 10 p.p. (62.6%) and of endometritis at day 21 p.p. (41.3%) in the study animals was very high. Animals with severe injuries of the soft birth canal were more likely to develope metritis at day 10 p.p. (p = 0.0321) and endometritis at day 21 p.p. (p < 0.0001) than animals with no or mild injuries. In the study heifers, no negative effect of inflammation of the uterus on fertility measures was detected.

 

Conclusion.

In this study, calving-related injuries of the soft birth canal were a risk factor for metritis and endometritis in heifers. Our findings emphasize the importance of timely and skilled obstetrical assistance of farmers and veterinarians, especially for heifers, to avoid severe injuries of the soft birth canal.

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