Saving heifer

Doc Ian Firth Performs Emergency Fetotomy To Save Heifer From Inevitable Death

Adrian Baillie-Stewart
Adrian Baillie-Stewart

On a part-time basis, Adrian serves as lead digital communications consultant for the Firth Group of farms. This includes Hillcrest Game Estates, Firth Red Brangus, Firth Wagyu, Maquassi Spruit Pecan Nuts and Highlands Cycads. A communications specialist at Content Strategics (Pty) Ltd., Adrian helps small to medium enterprises achieve their primary operational goals by maximising the commercial impact of their media content published across multiple online digital platforms.

Thanks to the quick-thinking intervention of retired vet, Doctor Ian Firth, the life of a valuable heifer was saved from an inevitable and unnecessary death. This eventuality might well have resulted from the heifer/dam’s inability to give natural birth to its lifeless unborn calf.

In cases like these, a vet is not always close at hand to intervene.

When summoned by Firth Group Cattle Division Manager, Jan Lubbe, thankfully ‘Doc Ian’ (as he is fondly known) was able to jump into action very quickly, thus saving the heifer/dam from an agonising and painful labour which in all likelihood, might well have resulted in its death.

During the emergency fetotomy¹ procedure, Doc Ian had to dissect the dead foetus in utero.

Fetotomy is an obstetric veterinary procedure that is applicable particularly to cows owing to the size of the uterus and the opportunity to introduce instruments to the full depth of the foetus. 

According to this veterinary article² , in an effort to save the life of the
dam/heifer, a fetotomy is performed under the following circumstances:

In all cases, there must be sufficient space to perform the cuts.