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The word 'pregnant' is derived from Latin terms 'pre' and 'natus' meaning 'before' and 'birth', respectively.
The gestation length of a cow ranges around nine months, which is almost the same as human pregnancy. Do human pregnancy and cow pregnancy have something else in common too?
Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the period in which one or more offspring grow and develop inside the mother's uterus. While pregnancy is the result of natural animal breeding, artificial insemination is often used to produce a pregnancy, especially for infertile animals. A cow gives birth to offspring after a long gestation length of about 38-44 weeks or 265-295 days. The gestation length varies from one breed to another. Cows that give birth to bull calves have a longer gestation period than cows pregnant with heifer calves.
Pregnant cows tend to appear bigger and gain considerable weight as they reach the stage of calving. There are multiple signs that will show a pregnant cow is close to reaching the calving stage. Near the end of the pregnancy, the mother cow will gain a considerable amount of body weight, with over 75-85 % of the weight gained during the last four months of the pregnancy cycle. Thus, a calving cow is often heavy, weighing around 1200-1400 lb (544-635 kg). Cervical dilation makes a cow quite uneasy for about two to six hours. As well as this, a calf entering the birth canal stimulates abdominal straining. The delivery usually takes about one to two hours. While delivering the first calf is usually quite difficult and painful due to inexperience and a partially immature body, mature cows do not find calving as painful and difficult as first-calf cows. Likewise, mature cows have comparatively shorter postpartum intervals. However, before you assume that your cow is pregnant, have a veterinarian check to make sure!
Human gestation length is classified into trimesters; similarly, a cow's pregnancy occurs in stages too. As human pregnancy lasts for nine months, the gestation length of a cow also ranges from 38-44 weeks or 265-295 days. A cow's breed, age, sex of the calf, and several other factors affect the development and growth of a calf inside the mother's womb and the gestation length for the pregnant cow. The gestation period is referred to as the period after natural breeding or artificial insemination until calving or parturition, which is the natural process of giving birth to a calf or calves. The months, weeks, or days between insemination or breeding and calving are classified into stages that stimulate the development and growth of the calf or calves inside a mother's uterus.
A fetus grows into the size of a mouse in the initial three months, which is about 90-95 days. Miscarriages are quite common in the first 21 days, compared to the calving stage, when the chances of miscarriage drop significantly. After five months of gestation, the fetus starts developing structures that can be felt by the end of the initial five months. For the next couple of months, cows are groomed with proper nutrients to ensure a healthy calf or calves and high and sufficient milk production. By the end of the seventh month, calves grow to about the size of a cat. The 70-80% growth takes place during the last trimester of the mother's gestation period. Also, cows gain a considerable amount of weight during the same period, before calving or parturition. Typically, cows are not fed milk for 45-60 days before the expected calving period. By the end of the last trimester, the cows give birth to a calf or calves.
Giving birth is a completely natural process and irrespective of technological developments around the world; an animal cannot alter or change how and when it delivers its offspring. Also, during the gestation period, the mother's body may experience several changes and every individual cow has its own way to respond to such changes. Because of that, the gestation period varies for different species, breeds, and individuals.
Not all cows are pregnant for the same number of days or weeks, nor do they have an equivalent range of gestation length. The temporal range of pregnancy is often affected by age, breed, and other factors relating to animals and their maturity. Although the gestation period of various breeds extends for about 283 days, heifer calves are born earlier than bull calves. Likewise, a mature body is known to carry its offspring healthily and securely as compared to younger cows; therefore, the gestation period varies between mature and younger animals.
A cow doesn't grow a baby bump on the first day of its gestation period. Humans do not take as long as cows to show a baby bump, because cows often show their baby bumps quite late. A three-month pregnant human may not show a baby bump as large as a five-month pregnant human, but that does not mean either baby is unhealthy! Likewise, a cow may not show a baby bump but can present other symptoms of pregnancy.
Are you wondering how to know if your cow is pregnant or not? A cow carrying offspring does not show heat or estrus as its estrus cycle pauses. An estrus cycle spans for about 21 days every month that is stimulated by the corpus luteum. If it does not appear for a month, you may assume your cow to be pregnant. Also, an enlarged udder is another prominent symptom in a heifer cow. By the end of the fourth or fifth month, you may observe a baby bump. Further, during the gestation period, breeds like the bull are observed to portray their unwillingness to mate with any potential mate. To confirm if your cow is pregnant, test its milk for progesterone. If its progesterone level is high, it is most likely pregnant. You can also get pregnancy tests such as ultrasound, abdominal ballottement, rectal palpation, or plasma test to further confirm if your cows are carrying offspring.
The longer the post-partum period, the longer cows take to get pregnant again!
A cow needs to be perfectly healthy to be able to carry its offspring. After all, carrying offspring is a task of responsibility. If the mother is not healthy, her offspring can't be healthy either. Let your cow recover before it becomes a mother again!
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how long are cows pregnant, then why not take a look at how long are goats pregnant, or highland cattle facts?
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