Calf won't suck

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BFE

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Got a calf that momma wasn't feeding enough. Her bag looked ok, but apparently not producing near enough. While still on momma, he got a round of tetracycline and banamine due to an eye that got stobbed, and picked up for a couple days.I finally brought him home and put him on milk replacer. He's getting 2qt both ends of the day, but I've had to tube him to get it down. He won't barely suck. I know he was dehydrated last week by his manure, but he doesn't appear to be gaining much strength. Was born 4-14 at probably 90#, and isn't any smaller now, probably 105# now. Never had one that won't improve, they either get better or die. He's improving, but not much. Sucking reflex is worse now than last week. Any suggestions?
 

Buck Randall

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Stop tubing milk or milk replacer! Milk that's tubed will enter the rumen and ferment there, instead of being properly digested in the abomasum. The acid produced by the fermentation makes them sick. If you must tube a calf, use electrolytes and make sure that they always have fresh drinking water available.

Calves that have been on a cow are often too stubborn to take a bottle, even when they're nearly starved. Not much you can do other than patiently continuing to try. If anyone has a magic formula for getting calves like that to suddenly be interested in bottles, please share.
 

TCRanch

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I'm a fan of Vitamin B Complex and if they're newborns, Nursemate ASAP. Will he suck your finger? Have you tried molasses on the nipple? Goat nipple? Stimulate his behind like mama would with a warm wet washcloth while the nipple is in his mouth. Stroke his throat. Back him into a corner and essentially clamp the nipple in his mouth (but gently); they usually try to push it out with their tongue & end up getting a taste of milk, which is sometimes that "lightbulb moment" & will start to suck.

Good luck!
 

MurraysMutts

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Someone a while back mentioned a drop of iodine on the tongue.
Research that...

But they dont always need a bottle either. If they will drink it from a bucket, game on!

I have had no real luck getting them sucking my finger and leading them to the bucket. Usually they find the bucket easy enough on their own.
 

Dave

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We had one like that this year. Pulled off a cow with no milk. Had to tube him for about 10 days. Wife used a nipple that had been opened up some. Milk would just run out it although no too fast. Sticked it in his mouth and tipped the bottle and his head. He did slobber some out the side but he sort of had to swallow as the milk was running into his throat. She says it took 6 feedings before he started to suck. Once he started to suck she went back to a normal nipple.
 
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BFE

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Stop tubing milk or milk replacer! Milk that's tubed will enter the rumen and ferment there, instead of being properly digested in the abomasum. The acid produced by the fermentation makes them sick. If you must tube a calf, use electrolytes and make sure that they always have fresh drinking water available.

Calves that have been on a cow are often too stubborn to take a bottle, even when they're nearly starved. Not much you can do other than patiently continuing to try. If anyone has a magic formula for getting calves like that to suddenly be interested in bottles, please share.
I was not aware of the fermenting problem. I'll get some electrolyte and do that to keep him hydrated. That's probably why he's not sucking like he was at first. Would you recommend one tubing of electrolyte in the morning and then nothing but a bottle in the evening? I don't want him dehydrated again.
I'm a fan of Vitamin B Complex and if they're newborns, Nursemate ASAP. Will he suck your finger? Have you tried molasses on the nipple? Goat nipple? Stimulate his behind like mama would with a warm wet washcloth while the nipple is in his mouth. Stroke his throat. Back him into a corner and essentially clamp the nipple in his mouth (but gently); they usually try to push it out with their tongue & end up getting a taste of milk, which is sometimes that "lightbulb moment" & will start to suck.

Good luck!
I'll try the stimulation, glad you specified the washcloth or I might have embarrassed myself! I'll try molasses too. Everything else I've tried.

Thank you all.
 

Buck Randall

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I was not aware of the fermenting problem. I'll get some electrolyte and do that to keep him hydrated. That's probably why he's not sucking like he was at first. Would you recommend one tubing of electrolyte in the morning and then nothing but a bottle in the evening? I don't want him dehydrated again.
I recommend making sure he gets at least 4 quarts of liquid into him daily. That can be milk if he'll drink it from the bottle, otherwise electrolytes. Some times calves with a sour stomach will drink electrolytes voluntarily even when they won't take milk. It might take a few feedings for that milk to get through his system and for him to start feeling better.

Any time a calf doesn't want to drink I recommend taking a temperature and checking for pneumonia as well. Calves with pneumonia don't always cough and have runny noses, especially early in the disease.
 

Hereford2

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Give him a shot of bo-se, that often starts them sucking, when b vitamin doesn't work. I have turned them a half of a gallon of whole milk warmed up from the store, then let them go up to 24 hour's without feeding them. I try the bottle 12 hours after tubing,then again 24 hour's later. Don't let them go more than 24 hour's without milk, they starve and get weak very quickly. The milk from the store,seems to settle on their stomach, better than the milk Replacer. Of course fresh raw milk is best, if you have to tube them.
 

Franzel76

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We had one like that this year. Pulled off a cow with no milk. Had to tube him for about 10 days. Wife used a nipple that had been opened up some. Milk would just run out it although no too fast. Sticked it in his mouth and tipped the bottle and his head. He did slobber some out the side but he sort of had to swallow as the milk was running into his throat. She says it took 6 feedings before he started to suck. Once he started to suck she went back to a normal nipple.
If on Facebook, check my post on “The Cattle Sight” page. On Facebook, I’m Alleluia Acres and encountered a similar situation. Today I will begin trying to put a 26 day old bull calf on a mama that lost her calf 5 days ago. Vet thought for sure he was a goner but I think he’s a miracle.
 

gcreekrch

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Stop tubing milk or milk replacer! Milk that's tubed will enter the rumen and ferment there, instead of being properly digested in the abomasum. The acid produced by the fermentation makes them sick. If you must tube a calf, use electrolytes and make sure that they always have fresh drinking water available.

Calves that have been on a cow are often too stubborn to take a bottle, even when they're nearly starved. Not much you can do other than patiently continuing to try. If anyone has a magic formula for getting calves like that to suddenly be interested in bottles, please share.
Are you suggesting that giving colostrum by tubing them is Not the right thing to do? I guess we have been doing it wrong for 40 years. Wonder all those calves survived!
I do realize that sucking and getting the milk to abomasum is preferable but tubing is far better than starvation.

If this calf were here it would not have gotten to the stage it is in the first place but since it has it would have gotten the B vitamin complex as already stated along with E Sel, Trimidox or Borgal (brand names) and a belly full of milk with a tube. We may use electrolytes if dehydrated badly but they would only be half or less of the diet. Once the calf has some strength we might try using hunger as an incentive to suck but when a calf is weak from hunger I would not suggest it.
 

Buck Randall

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Are you suggesting that giving colostrum by tubing them is Not the right thing to do? I guess we have been doing it wrong for 40 years. Wonder all those calves survived!
I do realize that sucking and getting the milk to abomasum is preferable but tubing is far better than starvation.
No. Colostrum is not milk, and I recommend all calves that don't nurse get tubed with a gallon of it in their first hours of life.

A calf can easily go a couple of days without milk, as long as it is getting fluids and electrolytes. It's not ideal, but it's better than tubing milk or starving.
 

gcreekrch

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No. Colostrum is not milk, and I recommend all calves that don't nurse get tubed with a gallon of it in their first hours of life.

A calf can easily go a couple of days without milk, as long as it is getting fluids and electrolytes. It's not ideal, but it's better than tubing milk or starving.
Thanks for clarifying although I have had the odd dummy that lived getting tubed the first three days of life until the light came on.
 
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BFE

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Resorb again this morning. Calf sucked a half a bottle tonight pretty well but lost interest on the second quart. He’s improving greatly.

I’ve “brought them back from the dead” before but this one would pick up a little then go back down then pick up again and so on. I’m satisfied that Buck is right. It was dying with a full belly of milk. I’ve had plenty of bottle babies but this was a first for me. Live and learn.
Easy to say it wouldn’t happen to you when it didn’t.
 

Buck Randall

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Thanks for clarifying although I have had the odd dummy that lived getting tubed the first three days of life until the light came on.
There are definitely cases where tubing milk is a necessary evil, and you're more likely to get away with it in a calf that's only a couple days old, so that makes sense. I've just seen enough instances of people force feeding calves to death to have pretty strong feelings about it.
 

MurraysMutts

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Resorb again this morning. Calf sucked a half a bottle tonight pretty well but lost interest on the second quart. He’s improving greatly.

I’ve “brought them back from the dead” before but this one would pick up a little then go back down then pick up again and so on. I’m satisfied that Buck is right. It was dying with a full belly of milk. I’ve had plenty of bottle babies but this was a first for me. Live and learn.
Easy to say it wouldn’t happen to you when it didn’t.
Nice to hear there is some improvement!
Hope to hear more good news soon...

I've had a couple that I thought I was starving, trying to get them to eat, when in reality they just twernt hungry!
 

annmariemz23

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No. Colostrum is not milk, and I recommend all calves that don't nurse get tubed with a gallon of it in their first hours of life.

A calf can easily go a couple of days without milk, as long as it is getting fluids and electrolytes. It's not ideal, but it's better than tubing milk or starving.
Electrolytes are like magic. Go to them first. You can kill a calf with too much food more easily than you can kill one with too little food. Funny story this year we had a heifer who didn't suckle her calf. We missed it in the sudden mass of births, and then found this stray calf we couldn't match with a mother. I separated the calves from the cows, and turned them back into the field a few hours later to see where the calf went. She went to a cow that we had watched calve a different baby. The cow was lying down. Our orphan rooted at her until she reluctantly got up and nursed it. The orphan had been seen robbing other cows also, but this was its favorite. This mother was a great big healthy cow, and she began to consider the second calf to be her own also. We have kept her in close to the house after taking the rest of the cows to the mountains so we can keep an eye on her with her "twins."
 

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