Birthing Process
August 2023

As spring approaches, its crucial to understand the duration of the birthing process for a seamless transition for your pregnant animals. If your animal is taking longer than the times below to complete a stage, please call us early so we can provide the best possible outcome for both mother and offspring.

Stageone starts when uterine contractions begin. The foetus moves towards the birthing canal, and you may see your animal becoming restless, separating from the others in the group and a reduced appetite. You will often see a raised tail and the vulva can have clear/yellow mucus discharge or membranes protruding out of it.

Cow starting to calve

Timing for stage one

  • Cows = 2 – 24 hrs
  • Heifers = 2 – 48 hrs
  • Ewes = 2 – 5 hrs
  • Goats = 2 – 5 hrs
  • Hembras = 1 – 6 hrs

Stage two - membranes rupture and the foetus is delivered. You are likely to see obvious abdominal straining, shifting between recumbent/standing and ideally there will be 2 front feet and a nose at the vulva. This stage finishes when the foetus is completely out. There can be many reasons why a mother cannot push the foetus out, often due to malposition of the foetus, but the earlier we can intervene the better the outcome is for both mother and offspring.

Goat kidding

Timing for stage two

  • Cows = 30mins – 1 hr
  • Heifers = 1 – 4 hrs
  • Ewes = no longer than 2 hrs
  • Goats = no longer than 1 hr
  • Hembras = no longer than 1 hr  

Stage three is the passing of foetal membranes and the cervix closes. With this you should see placenta protruding from the vulva, there may be a small amount of bleeding/fluid draining out from the vulva and it is complete when the entire placenta is delivered. There should be one placenta for each foetus delivered.


Timing for stage three

  • Cow = 1 – 8 hrs
  • Seek help if not passed in 12 hrs
  • Ewes = 2 – 3 hrs
  • Seek help if not passed in 10 hrs
  • Goats = 2 – 10 hrs
  • Hembras = 4 – 6 hrs