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Retained Fetal Membranes in Cows (Retained placenta)

Retention of fetal membranes, or retained placenta, usually is defined as failure to expel fetal membranes within 24 hr after parturition. Normally, expulsion occurs within 3-8 hr after calf delivery. The incidence in healthy dairy cows is 5-15%, while the incidence in beef cows is lower. The incidence during lactation is increased by abortion, dystocia, hypocalcemia, twin birth, high environmental temperature, advancing age of the cow, premature birth or induction of parturition, placentitis, and nutritional disturbances.

Additional information

There are multiple causes for placental retention, the most common being early parturition due to abortion, induction or twinning. Retention has been associated with decreased fertility and longer calving intervals in dairy cattle and with an increased incidence of mastitis.
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