Infectious Abortions in Cattle

By : Guy E. Reynolds, Oregon State University

Infertility and abortions in cattle are two of the greatest problems the cattle breeder faces. The causes are complex and difficult to identify. This publication suggests and briefly outlines some of the more common diseases and control measures.

In cases of abortions, call your veterinarian immediately, and have the following information and/or material available:

1. Identify aborting cows and isolate them from the rest of the herd. This helps prevent spread of infection and makes them available for examination.

2. Save fetuses and fresh placentas. Refrigerate at 38o F to 45o F. Do not freeze. Wrap in plastic or other waterproof material. Do not cut or wash the fetus or placenta.

3. Have a good history of your herd vaccinations, movement of cattle to and from other premises, and management and origin of bulls.

4. Keep good records of the reproductive history of cows, including number of abortions, conception rate, and approximate breeding dates.

The following is a rough guide to help you determine the age of an aborted fetus:

Length of gestation         Description of fetus
2 months                           Size of a mouse
3 months                           Size of a rat
4 months                           Size of a small cat
5 months                           Size of a large cat
6 months                           Size of a small dog (hair around eyes, tail, muzzle)
7 months                           Fine hair on body and legs
8 months                           Hair coat complete, incisor teeth slightly erupted
9 months                           Incisor teeth erupted

Click here for more tables and information.

 

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