Author D. Audenart

A long expulsion phase and intensive traction assistance during a heavy birth cause oxygen deficiency in the calf. If the calf already begins to breathe during expulsion, amniotic fluid enters the lungs. There it impedes gas exchange and leads to circulatory problems. Due to the following acidosis, the nerve cells in the brain are damaged. To avoid this problem and to remove the fluid from the lung it can be useful to hang the calf upside down during 60 seconds (not more than 90 seconds).
On this way, the mucus in the throat can leave out the mouth. When the calf is born by a caesarian section (Belgian Blue), a pulley can be used to hang the calf upside down. This method is common on Belgian beef farms for a higher survival rate after difficult births, but heavy calves are hard to hold upside down. This good practice is not considered as beneficial for the calf in all parts of the world.


This Good Practice has an Impact on:

  • Socio-economic resilience: The economic basis of calf producers is the sale of calves. If the survival rate of calves can be increased with this technique, it will also increase income.
  • Animal health and welfare: The technique can help to save the lives of weak calves, thus it affects animal health and welfare. However, it should not be a standard, only a practice if acutely much fluid in the lungs.