Parturition in cattle is a stressful event for both the dam and the offspring. Stress and pain can alter the energy profile of calves and calving cows, producing a metabolic imbalance at birth. This study aimed to assess the effects of dystocia and oxytocin and calcium infusion on metabolic homeostasis in dairy cows and calves. Thirty Holstein cows and their calves were divided into three groups: an eutocia group (n=10), in which no calving assistance was needed; a dystocia group, which required mild-to-severe obstetric assistance (n=10); and a uterine inertia group, which was treated with oxytocin and calcium (n=10). To assess serum cortisol and blood glucose levels, blood samples were collected during the peripartum period from cows and during the first hour since birth from calves. All groups were hyperglycaemic following parturition. Infusion of oxytocin and calcium resulted in lower maternal glucose concentrations and lower levels of stress than in cows in the dystocia group. Birth condition was significantly associated with blood glucose and cortisol concentrations in calves. Glucose concentration was lower in calves born with oxytocin and calcium infusion than those born with fetal extraction. In conclusion, assisted calving with fetal extraction causes important metabolic changes for the dam and calf. Conversely, the practice of oxytocin and calcium infusion for hypotonic cows has no harmful effects on metabolic balance and can be safely employed as a medical treatment.
- Neonatal disease
- Accepted January 21, 2015.
- British Veterinary Association
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