Iowa State University Builds Cow Maternity Ward

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AMES, Iowa -- It's the start of calving season on farms across the state, and no place is busier this time of year than the maternity ward at Iowa State’s Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center.

When the veterinary college at Iowa State University expanded in 2012, a new wing was built to allow expectant cows to give birth.

Equipped with eight stalls, the ward keeps during late winter and early spring.

“It’s kind of like a hotel. People can drop their cows off if they’re going to be gone,” said Dr. Tyler Dohlman, assistant professor at the college. “They just don’t want their valuable animals left at home … and we can watch over them.”

Dohlman works with other veterinarians and students doing ‘round the clock surveillance of the expectant mothers.

Students get first-hand experience watching calves take their first steps.

“A lot of students have never seen a live birth on a cow. We get a lot of students who enjoy this. Additionally, they get to assist and help us deliver calves by assistance,” Dohlman said.

The cows also have access to medical care, should that be needed, in addition to avoiding birthing outdoors.

Inside the stalls, it’s dry and between 65 and 70 degrees.

“A lot of times these calves are being born when it’s not the nicest Iowa weather. This eliminates issues that calves nursing et frost=bitten ears when it is negative degrees out,” Dohlman said.

The new service costs jut $30 per night plus any medicine or vet bills for the animals.

The cost for an overnight stay is $30 plus any medicine or vet bills incurred.

Often cattle producers will book months ahead to get an animal in here.

"A lot of our clientele are club calves here in Iowa, who have fairly valuable animals and cost quite a bit to make them pregnant," said Dohlman.

People wanting to reserve a space for a cow can call the animal desk at 515-294-1500 to ask about available space.