To avoid dystocia and calf mortality two groups of cows were induced to calve six or seven days prematurely. Group I consisted of none Hereford cross Friesian two-and-a-half-year-old recipient cows carrying Continental beef breed fetuses. Group 2 consisted of 10 four-year-old Continental beef breed cows carrying pure or crossbred fetuses of the same breeds. On day 280 of gestation a long-acting betamethasone formulation was injected into all 19 animals, followed five or six days later with an injection of short-acting betamethasone (15 animals) or prostaglandin F2alpha (one animal). Three cows calved before their second injection. Fourteen of the 15 animals given the short-acting betamethasone calved 26 to 70 hours later; the remaining animal was given prostaglandin at 72 hours and calved 36 hours later. The cow that received prostaglandin F2alpha instead of short-acting betamethasone calved after 11 hours. None of the calves in group I was born dead but three died within 36 hours. One calf was born dead in group 2. Cervical dilatation and slackening of pelvic ligaments were satisfactory in all animals. Although calf birthweights were between 39 and 60.5 kg, only two instances of dystocia were encountered. Thirteen of the 19 cows voided their fetal membranes within 12 hours of calving. Only two retained them for more than four days. All cows except two in group I showed good udder development and had a plentiful supply of colostrum at calving.
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