Dystocia and perinatal mortality are major animal health, welfare and economic issues in beef suckler cow production. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors for dystocia and perinatal mortality and to analyze the relationships of both traits to external pelvic parameters in extensively kept beef suckler cows. Calving ease and calf survival were recorded for 785 births on five Angus cattle farms in Germany. The prevalence of dystocia and perinatal mortality was 3.4% and 4.3%, respectively. A hierarchical model was used to predict dystocia and perinatal mortality. First-parity dams had a higher probability of dystocia (p
< 0.0001) than later-parity ones. Increasing birth weight was associated with an increasing risk for dystocia (p
< 0.05). The probability of perinatal mortality (p
< 0.0001) was higher in assisted births than in unassisted births. Calves from first-parity dams had a higher risk (p
< 0.01) of being stillborn than calves from dams in later parities. An increase in the length of the pelvis was associated with an increase in odds for perinatal mortality (p
< 0.001). In conclusion, the study indicates that dystocia and perinatal mortality are mainly problems in first-parity suckler cows. Concerning the predictive value of external pelvic parameters, further research is necessary.
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