Jersey/Holstein cross won't let Beefmaster calf suck

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melissa vincent

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Apr 5, 2017
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Hi, first time posting on here so bear with me please. We have an oprhan beefmaster calf (born 3/15/17) who's mom died three days after birth (thinking from probably milk fever). The cow's udders were to big for the calf to suck. We were able to catch the calf and get the mom into a chute within the first 24 hours of birth. Milked the cow and gave the colostrum and a supplement colostrum to calf. Bottle fed the calf after that especially after the mother died. Bottle fed for the first two weeks. My husband bought a jersey/holstein cross heifer that just had her first calf. She won't let the beefmaster calf nurse unless she's in a stall. So I'm currently fighting two issues with this: One, how do I graft the orphan calf to the nurse cow? It's been 5 days and she still kicks at her when she's not in the stall. And now the calf only wants to nurse and not take a bottle. Second, the calf now seems to have scours and as of this morning won't take a bottle or nurse when I put her in with the cow. I gave her a scours bolus and tried to feed her a bottle of electrolyte supplement but she wouldn't take it. Any recommendations? I think I am going to try and tube feed her some electrolytes. But biggest thing is how long can it take to get the nurse cow to accept the calf?

Thanks for all the help. We have 200 hundred acres in SWLA that we run 12 head of cows on. Beautiful grass, plenty of fresh water and hay. I can't think of anything else that would help give more info into my situation.

Yup, some cows will mother most any calf, with others the calf just has to learn to be a milk thief bcs the cow will
never love 'em, both you and the calf just have to keep at it, about all you can do is to keep using the stall till they learn. Good thing you have a stall, many don't.
You may try removing her calf from the scenario for about 8-10 hours. Then turn her calf, and the orphan in at the same time. They'll both be hungry, and nursing at the same time. I would say, most will take a calf, but some just won't.

Your scour situation is concerning. I'd recommend tubing. Maybe add a couple of eggs.
If you are trying to graft another calf on a cow that already has one, you basically HAVE to take her own calf away and let both on her at the same time. Some cows just won't accept a grafted calf if their own calf is running with them all the time. She needs to realize she only gets her own calf if she takes them both. At least she is taking them in the stall. Sometimes the calf will get old enough, big enough to learn to run up and go on the back when the cows' own calf goes on her.
Calf, 3 weeks and scouring may very well be coccidiosis, maybe some blood maybe not. Scour bolus like sustain III or something. Does the calf have water in front of it? Might be drinking the water and therefore not wanting to fight the cow, too. I wouldn't panic over the calf missing a feeding as long as it is not acting weak.
Also, the jer/hol milk is a different consistency than powdered milk replacer, with different bacteria in it, different butterfat and protein, so the calf's gut tract bacteria are having to adjust to the different components of the "real Milk". Sometimes that is just enough to throw them off the feed. Get a probios gel tube, and give the calf a couple of doses over a couple of days to get her gut working better. Also, b-complex or just B-12 shot or two; B-12 is an appetite stimulant.

Good luck, but some cows just aren't going to make a good nurse cow if they don't have to do it from day one. She knows that is not her baby. First calf heifers are sometimes harder to get to take additional calves in my opinion. Persistence.
I have a first calf jer/hol heifer that has her calf and 2 holsteins on her. She had only her calf for 4 days, and still won't take the extras except when she is in the barn. She comes in, eats, they nurse, then she goes out and we do the same thing again 12 hours later. I have taken to leaving her in 12 and out 12, but she still doesn't like them. They have learned to go on her from the back so I am hoping. But she is not the best dispositioned cross I have raised.

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