The acid-base status of 58 calves (all in normal anterior presentation) was determined from venous blood samples before the onset of traction and immediately after vaginal delivery. Calves were assigned to one of three groups according to their blood pH value: group 1 - normal, pH greater than 7.2; group 2 - acidotic, pH 7.2 to 7.0; group 3 - severely acidotic, pH less than 7.0. Before the onset of traction (i.e. during the 30 minutes following the appearance and rupture of the membranes), 43 calves (74.1%) had normal acid-base values, 14 (24.1%) had slight acidosis, and only 1 (1.7%) had severe acidosis. At birth the three groups of calves showed the following distribution: 23 (39.7%) were normal, 29 (50%) had slight acidosis, and 6 (10.3%) had severe acidosis. Seven calves (12.1%) died during birth or within 48 hours after birth; 2 were normal shortly before birth, 4 were acidotic shortly before birth, and 1 was severely acidotic even before the onset of traction. Traction was significantly longer for cows that delivered severely acidotic calves compared to cows in the other two groups.
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