We review the causes of fetal dystocia in cows and buffalo. Two fetal causes are distinct fetal oversize and fetal abnormalities. Fetal oversize is common in heifers, cows of beef cattle breeds, prolonged gestations, increased calf birth weight, male calves and perinatal fetal death with resultant emphysema. Fetal abnormalities include monsters, fetal diseases and fetal maldispositions, and it is difficult to deliver such fetuses because of their altered shape. Although monsters are rare in cattle, a large number of monstrosities have been reported in river buffalo; yet also here, overall incidence is low. Diseases of the fetus resulting in dystocia include hydrocephalus, ascites, anasarca and hydrothorax. The most common cause of dystocia in cattle seems to be fetal maldispositions, of which limb flexion and head deviation appear to be the most frequent. We provide a brief description of the management of dystocia from different causes in cattle and buffalo. A case analysis of 192 and 112 dystocia in cattle and buffalo, respectively, at our referral center revealed that dystocia is significantly higher (P<0.05) in first and second parity cows and buffalo, and that dystocia of fetal origin is common in cows (65.62%) but less frequent (40.17%) in buffalo. In buffalo, the single biggest cause of dystocia was uterine torsion (53.57%). Fetal survival was significantly (P<0.05) higher both in cows and buffalo when delivery was completed within 12 h of second stage of labor.
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