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Hydropsy is seen in most of the species even in human beings. There are of two types of hydropsy generally in cattle:

  • Hydroallantois: increased fluid in allantoic cavity

  • Hydroamnios: increased fluid in amniotic cavity


Hydrallantois accounts 90 % of hydropsy conditions. In the last trimester of pregnancy it mostly occurs but can also occurs after five months of gestation. There is accumulation of large quantity of fluid and abdomen becomes extended, enlarged and barrel shaped. Normally amount of fluid in allontoic cavity is round about 20 liters but in this case 150-260 liters (watery amber fluid or plasma like fluid) is there. Level of sodium, potassium and creatinin are in greater amount in this fluid.  It is reported that it is associated with the uterine and placental diseases. It is common in twin pregnancies. Animal looks to give birth to three calves.

Animal becomes anorectic, dehydrated, and weak. There is difficult respiration, lack of rumination, constipation, and excessive thirst. Temperature is normal. There is tachycardia, pulse is increased, weak and wiry/thin (90-140 per minute). Animal loses condition, sits down and unable to get up on sternum; animal would struggle to get up but not able. Repeated tries to get up will dislocate the hip joint and there may be fracture to femur.

Secondary complications include rectal hernia, rupture to pre-pubic tendon, musculo-skeletal injury, exertional myopathies. After delivery there will be metritis and retained placenta.

Diagnosis and Treatment:
In this disease if you remove fluid, it will be refilled. Rectal palpation shows enlarge distended uterus, fluid filled cavity. Placentome or fetus is not palptable. It is basically uterine disease with lesser no. of placentome. Prognosis for life and fertility is poor. So slaughter the animal. If fluid is removed rapidly, animal goes into shock. If we remove slowly, fluid will refill again.

We can go for cesarean section but here rapid replenishment of fluid is needed; full speed two intravascular fluid administrations are applied. It is challenge to operate. 


There are 10 % cases. It is accumulation of fluid in amniotic cavity. Filling of fluid is slow. So animal does not assume barrel shape rather gets pear shape. Mostly it occurs in last half of gestation. About 20-100 liters fluid may accumulate (normally 4-8 liters). Principal reason is genetically, congenitally, defective fetus. (In Hydrallantois placenta is defective).

In defective fetus swallowing is impaired, the fluid may be inhaled in bronchi and large amount of saliva will be constantly produced. Abdomen is pear shaped and less tense because of gradual filling. This condition is more common in cattle, less common in sheep and not in mare.


Genetic Conditions:

  • Dexter cattle (cattle having bulldog calves)

  • Angus cattle (having bracygnethic calve; those which do not have marrow in their bones)

  • Red Danish Cattle (muscle contracture calf, all muscles contracted around neck) Guernsey cattle (pituitary hypoplasia or aplasia which leads to prosing gestation)

  • Herford cattle (hydrocephalic calf)

  • Recessive autosomal genes may undergo Hydramnios


  • Twin monster

  • Schistosomis reflexes (when abdominal viscera is outside the body)

  • Anomalies of cranial portion of calf

  • American Bison cow

  • Prognosis is good for life and fertility. Hypertrophy of pituitary gland leads to prolong pregnancy. Calf is delivered normally but does not survive. There is retained placenta and metritis. There is enlarged uterus and uterine inertia (uterus refuse to contract).

We can conduct cesarean section. 24 hours prior to surgery fluid is removed from amniotic cavity gradually, half litter after every hour or alternately.

Induce parturition by dexamethasone and prostaglandin

Oxytocin is not effective as contractor because it requires priming by estrogen.


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