Retained Membranes

Do not wait for several days before treating dirty cows with hanging membranes or smelly rear ends.

Dr Dettloff recommends taking immediate action if there are membranes hanging 24 hours after calving. If you get onto it right away, a single treatment is often enough to prompt clean passage of any remaining after-birth. Timely action helps to avoid lengthy, costly treatments that debilitate the cow. Treating sooner rather than later also helps to avoid metritis and failure to cycle.

Procedure for Retained Membranes and Metritis:

What you’ll need for TWO Days of treatment per cow:

Aloe  100 to 150 ml per cow

First Step Tincture   approximately 50 ml per cow total

Fresh Cow boluses   2 to 4 per cow

  • Start treatment early. If membrane is still hanging at 36 hours after the birth, or you suspect the cow may not be clearing completely due to twins or a difficult birth – begin this procedure immediately.
  • Mix 75 ml of Aloe Vera concentrate in 350 ml of warm water and add 12 ml First Step Tincture per cow as the uterine irrigation. Hook a tube from a calf stomach drench bottle to a flexible hose which is connected on the other end to the container with the Aloe, water, and tincture irrigation mixture. You want a container with an outlet near the bottom on the side so the contents will gravity flow through the tube into the wand.  It helps to have a simple clamp on the hose so you can easily let the liquid flow once you’ve got the tube inserted through the cow’s cervix.  Try to use a container for the irrigation liquid that can be hung on something near or above head level. You need both hands free, so rig up something that doesn’t involve you holding the container for the  irrigation liquid.
  • Purchased options include using a Calf Colostrum feed such as Shoof Farmhand Flexi Probe cpt SKU#200973 $40 or just the Probe SKU# 219640 $16
  • Put the cow in a bail or the rotary where you can get good access to her rear end. Wash the fanny area well with disinfectant soap and warm water. Put on a disposable plastic OB sleeve and use sterile lubricant generously on your gloved hand. Hold one or two, if possible, Fresh Cow Boluses in your fist and insert sleeved hand and arm carefully into the vagina.    Be very gentle and cautious when putting hand farther into the vagina.  Cow will be sensitive and at least stomp, if not kick.  Drop boluses through cervical os/opening into the uterus/womb. 
  • Then secure the container with uterine irrigation mixture of Aloe, water, First Step close by and elevated.  Grasp the tube from the irrigation set up and  GENTLY push the tube into the vagina and through the cow’s os/cervix. This is best done by someone who has AI training or is experienced in sensitive cow care.   Release the clamp on the hose so that the water/aloe/tincture mixture flows through the tube into the uterus and onto the boluses dissolving the gelatine capsules.  This water mixture releases and moistens the bolus dry ingredients so they spread throughout the uterus.
  • You should NOT have irrigation liquid coming back out the cow's vagina towards you.  If this happens it means you haven’t gotten the wand through the cervix opening and the liquid is back flushing. Adjust the wand tip so the liquid goes INTO the uterus.
  • Administer 6ml of neat First Step Tincture into the vagina after the irrigation twice a day for 3 days.
  • Repeat inserting the boluses and irrigation liquid mixture over the top of them next day along with the 6ml of First Step Tincture and then evaluate the effect. Two sets of boluses may be enough but if in doubt, do it for a 3rd and 4th day.
  • Continue the First Step Tincture, alone, in the fanny for 4 – 5 days after you reckon you have cleared up the infection in the uterus.
  • If the cow is still not picking up after two days, add CEG Tincture and or Quad Support Tincture in the fanny and 150 ml of Aloe liquid in the mouth for 3 days. This helps to boost the cow's immune system to better fight the infection.
  • You can end the treatment after 3 days of tincture with a final irrigation of the Aloe/ water /First Step Tincture mix just to be sure.
  • To help avoid metritis (low grade, invisible uterine infections) consider giving 6 ml of First Step Tincture to all cows when they first come in the parlour for the first 4 milkings post. This blanket therapy helps all cows by boosting their immune system and prompting the uterine contractions that cows may miss out on if their calves are taken away soon after birth.

Helping Cows with low grade Metritis type Infections:

After several days or weeks, the cow's cervix/uterus is too closed up to put the Fresh Cow boluses directly into the uterus.  So instead you make up the uterine irrigation mixture with the contents of the  Fresh Cow Boluses dissolved in it. 


  • Open up 2 Fresh Cow Boluses per cow over a clean, dry container or bowl. There will be another 2 smaller capsules inside each large bolus.
  • Open each of those capsules into the bowl as well. They contain dried Aloe and garlic.
  • Mix the 350 ml warm water, 75 ml Aloe Vera and 12 ml First Step Tincture in the gravity feed irrigation container as described above Then stir in thoroughly the dry contents of the boluses in the bowl.

 Use the same wand setup and gravity feed container with tube. You GENTLY put the wand into the cow’s vagina and then through the cervical opening/os.  BE VERY CAREFUL when you do this.  Do not push hard or poke needlessly.  Try to gently find the opening to cervix and carefully push the wand through so that the irrigation liquid is going into the uterus and not just being discharged into the vagina.  You can tell you have NOT gotten it properly into the uterus if the liquid flows out of the back end of the cow.  Try again with another batch of irrigation liquid and bolus powders.

When through with the uterine irrigation, administer 6 ml of neat First Step Tincture into the vulva.

You can also use a 500 ml pump barrel ‘syringe’ for administering the irrigation liquid.  You can suck up the mixed liquid into the barrel, attach a wand and force the liquid into the uterus.

Repeat this procedure twice a day for 2 – 3 days.  Then administer First Step with CEG or Quad Support for 3 more days.  Give the cow 100ml of oral aloe once a day for 3 – 4 days to help her immune system fight off the infection.

It is MUCH easier and cheaper to treat these infections in the first 4 – 5 days. Better to do the procedure then and quash the small infection that may be happening, than to treat  for metritis multiple times later, like this.

First Step tincture can be administered at 6 ml to all cows the first 4 times they are in the parlour post calving.  This alone will help to prompt cleansing to release and derail potential metritis infections.  Doing this for all cows is ‘cheap insurance’. 

Please ring with any questions.   Phyllis Tichinin 027 465 1906


Use the protocol of Fresh Cow boluses, First Step tincture and Aloe Vera  under Practical Tips tab.

More reading:
Failure to Cycle

Rearing Calves
Retained Membranes