Retained Placenta in Cows

What is Retained Placenta in Cows?

Retained Placenta (RP) in cows is also known as retained foetal membrane or retained cleansing, or retained/ held cleanings. It occurs when the calf’s side of the placenta (the foetal membrane) fails to separate from the mother’s side. Separation of the membranes typically occurs just after the calf is born – RP is usually defined as the failure to expel foetal membranes within 24 hours of birth. The subsequent treatment of retained placenta and its impact on the herd can have a cost up to €300 per incident.

Symptoms of Retained Placenta in Cows

  • The most common sign of retained placenta in cows is a discoloured and rotting membrane visible from the cow, after calving.
  • Occasionally this will remain within the cow and may be signalled by a foul-smelling discharge.
  • Both symptoms are usually accompanied by a depressed appetite and milk yield.

Causes of Retained Placenta in Cows

  • Subclinical Milk Fever
  • Overfat cows
  • Selenium/Vitamin E deficiency
  • Twins
  • Difficult calving
  • Premature birth/abortions
  • Low immune system

Problems from Retained Placenta in Cows

  • Risk of Ketosis
  • Risk of Metritis
  • Risk of Mastitis
  • Increased infertility
  • Increased vet and medicine costs

Retained Placenta in Cows – Solutions

  • Treating Retained Placenta in Cows

The retained membrane usually passes in 4-10 days without the need for treatment. Manual extraction is only recommended if the placenta comes freely as forced removal could cause lesions in the uterus. Administration of antibiotics will reduce the bacterial load present in the uterus and may prevent the development of endometritis or metritis. However, if intrauterine antibiotics are administered while the placenta is still retained, then it will prolong the time to expulsion.

  • Preventing Retained Placenta in Cows

As with most health issues, preventing retained placenta in cows is the best option. Good dry cow management is the best way of preventing retained cleanings and reducing its effects. This will include the supply of correct nutrients, particularly magnesium, maximising dry matter intake, maintaining the correct body condition score and supplying a clean dry environment. Controlling milk fever will be the most important factor in reducing retained placentas as well as increasing selenium and Vitamin E levels in the animals.

The use of specially blended dry cow minerals during the pre-calving period will help to prevent retained placenta in cows as these are designed to address the needs of the cow and calf at calving time. A special blend such as Terra Nutritech Easy Calf should be used in the final 7-10 days a week before calving.

The Terra Nutritech OPIS and Orbvie dosing systems deliver exactly what the cow needs when they need it through either water or on feed.

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