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  • A few weeks before calving the cow will 'bag up'.
  • Nearer calving her vulva will swell and you may see some mucous discharge.
  • The cow will separate from the herd if there is room to find a quiet area.
  • She will prepare a birth site by smelling the ground, pawing the ground with her front feet, and going round and round.
  • She’ll get up and down a lot as birth pains start to build up.
  • A small 'water bag' will appear protruding from the vulva. This is the bag the calf is in and is quite normal.
  • A prolapse is a large red organ - this is the vagina and uterus turned inside out. This needs very great care to put back and will need veterinary assistance.
  • The water bag will burst and then you should see front feet and a nose.
  • If you don’t see front feet and nose - things are not normal and some manipulation may be needed. You may need veterinary help.
  • The cow will smell the ground a lot where her waters have burst.
  • She’ll then soon lie down and push the calf out.
  • She may get up and down during these pushes and look round smelling the ground - almost looking for the calf.
  • With the final push the calf will be delivered and the membranes over the calf should rupture.
  • The calf may drop out when the cow is standing.
  • The cow will stand up and turn round to lick the calf - and hopefully chew the membranes from the calf’s nose so it does not suffocate.
  • The cow eating the afterbirth is quite normal.
  • The cord will break when the cow turns round. Stretching the cord helps to stop any bleeding.
  • Don’t break the cord until the calf starts to breathe.
  • The afterbirth will be pushed out soon after the calf. If it does not, don’t worry about it unless it hasn’t appeared in about 4-5 days. Seek veterinary advice.

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