The calf doesn't try to suck anymore I put the calf near her and the cow will stand still ok when I tug on its teats and check for milk. (Won't even suck a bottle) But I suspect you are correct the bloody cow in the field just wouldn't stand still long enough and too busy dealing with flies so that the calf never got that 1st milk early on so doesn't associate cow with milk or food anymore.Something totally different. What does the cow do when the calf tries to find the teat. Does she stand still? Does she kick? If the calf tried a few times too many in the first days and she didn't stand still and kept kicking....... it just won't try anymore.
Personally, I would keep them locked up, put her in the squeeze twice a day, try to get the calf to suck twice a day. It's a pain in the ass and time consuming, but I'd rather do that for a few days (if she has milk) then bottle feed it.
If it still doesn't suck on her when you work with them, drench it. At least then you know it has a good amount of fluid in it.
I'm a bit suspicious though of the cow, you say she had problems the last 2 years with her calves, or the calves with her. Probably not a coincidence you are having a problem with the calf this year.
Check out that milkbag and what comes out of it............ may be the key to the whole thing.
Good luck, it's maddening when calves don't want to feed, but we're suckers for dealing with cows and their offspring. =)
I got the vet out yesterday as the calves eyes had started to look a bit sunken in and I'd hoped he might try the madigan squeeze technique but he said that usually for 2-3 day old calves but he did give it antibiotics, metacam and selenium, he said its temp is ok. It doesn't have diarrhoea in fact its stools look pretty good very solid. So I'm just stomach tubing it for now reluctantly as its a bit of a catch 22 situation (its not going to try and suck if its full) but I figure it just needs nutrition and no stress for a few days to keep its strength and I'll probably put the cow in the cattle crush next week and try again to get the calf to do its thing.