Calving difficulty has a significant influence on immunoglobulin concentrations in the blood of 1-day-old calves, says Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University extension reproduction specialist. Those immunoglobulin or antibodies are transferred to the calf from the dam in colostrum.

Dr. Selk cites a Colorado State University study in which immunoglobulin concentrations were significantly lower for calves that experienced difficult birth, even when the cow was milked immediately after calving and the calf was fed the colostrum.

Calves born after dystocia are also at high risk of failing to receive adequate colostrum even through natural suckling. Apparently, calves born to dams with prolonged stage II parturition often suffer from respiratory acidosis.

Acidotic calves are less efficient absorbing colostral immunoglobulin, even from artificially fed colostrum.

Reducing calving difficulty may decrease the incidence of newborn disease problems. Properly developed heifers mated to calving-ease sires may be a major step toward reducing scours and pneumonia.