How to tell if calf is preemie or just very small?

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Oct 22, 2004
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Hi, I am new here, not sure if I am in the right spot or not, but am looking for help anywhere I can find it. Day before yesterday we had a cow have a calf right out in the cow yard. She was not dried off yet because she calved Jan. 19th of this year. (We still have natural service and usually breed back doesn't happen within 3 wks of calving!) Her calf is extremely tiny, possibly around 30 lbs, and knee high. Everything I have read says that preemie calves don't have teeth yet. Ours does and is drinking colostrum ok. He is also able to stand and walk. The only problems we are seeing is that he does seem to "twitch" a lot (rather like the "startle reflex" that preemie human babies have) and yesterday we noticed what could be blood in feces that we are concerned about. We are trying to treat him as a preemie, keeping him extra warm and feeding 3-4 times a day. I've read that vitamins B-12, A and E are helpful but looking for more input before subjecting the poor lil guy to more needles since we are giving him aqua-penn as an infection preventative already. Any suggestions, ideas or imput would be gladly appreciated as my son is terribly attached to "Tiny Tim" and we don't want to lose him! Thanks
What breed? If premature I would be concerned with lungs as much as anything. The only premature calf we've ever had still had the soft padding on the soles of it's fet for a week or so after birth.
The vet just had an Angus bull calf born that was 2 weeks late and it only weighed 42 lbs. It happens, sometimes for no rhyme or reason.

Wow, we just moved to Wisconsin May of this year, after living in the Lake of the Ozarks area for 31 years!

The mother cow is holstein, we have 2 natural service bulls so either could be the father. One is holstein, one is holstein crossed with either angus or something black? (not that familiar with ALL the breeds there are) The calf is completely black with a tiny white dot between his back legs so we suspect the black bull, especially since the holstein has been known to throw very large (100 lb) calves. The mother is 7-8 years old and is good size cow who has previously had larger calves (80 lbs plus range) His lungs are the reason for the aqua-penn we are giving him. We've had a recent bout of pneumonia going around the calf barn due mostly to a nasty weather change (70's one day, down to 26° the next night with snow!)
Have you seen any other calves from the black bull? If so, what kind of size were they?
Something else I forgot to mention. Although most calves tend to be a little "lay about" the first couple of days to a week, premature calves will be even more so.

Well with both of them being in the herd its really hard to tell whose baby is whose, when we see one thats mostly black we assume it belongs to the black bull (unless the Mom is one of the black jerseys) Aside from this, most all of the calves born this year have been 65 lbs or better, with the "normal" average of 70-80 lbs.

I checked his teeth again and while he does have them they are just barely protruding through his gums. Good news today though as he is not only up and walking but nearly chasing us down wanting a bottle! Also saw no blood in feces and his mooing is starting to sound a bit more normal :)
SAounds like you have a good extra fertile mama cow on you hands. Better keep her!

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