New calf from auction - weak, diarrhea, not taking bottle

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skylavaulter

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We bought a holstein calf last night at auction on a whim. She's about a week old, maybe a little older. Umbilical cord still attached. She was ravenous last night after the auction and ride home, and suckling actively on a bottle but not getting anywhere with it (hard rubber pop on nipple). We cut a hole in the tip of the nipple and she took down 3 quarts in under 5 minutes. She perked up after that, following us around in a frenzy for more milk. We noticed she was wobbly when she walked, weak, and had diarrhea. This morning she refused a bottle for us, no matter how hard we tried to force it (tried backing her into a corner, pulling her head up while straddling her, etc). We bought a softer nipple for her and it didn't help. She's still weak, still having diarrhea, laying down the majority of today. We've gotten a dose of probiotics and electrolytes in her today, but only a pint of milk replacer.We even went and bought raw milk from a dairy farm nearby to entice her, but she wasn't interested. I have only raised up one calf before and that was 10 years ago and (from what I remember) fairly easy. We're at a loss and feel like we are missing something important. Should we start looking at antibiotics? I've never tubed a calf and no farm stores around here carry those. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

tom4018

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If she is scouring bad you need to keep fluids in her, tubing my be the only option. You may want to check her temp. In a pinch I have used a baster if I could not tube one.
 
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skylavaulter

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Husband said she did have a firmer green stool today (it was watery and yellow last night). Still weak. I get off work in an hour and will be giving her a thorough once over when I get home tonight (temp, etc)
 

A.J.

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Sorry to hear that. I'm with tom. Sounds like you may need to try to tube her. If you have an auto parts store close by, you might get a piece of rubber hose. It's not ideal, but I've done it in a pinch before and it worked. Just make sure to put some petroleum jelly or something similar to lubricate it and take your time inserting it. Does she seem to be having any issues breathing? I would monitor that and make sure she doesn't get pneumonia from the stress of being shipped and her immune system being weak. Do you have any meds on hand? If you don't, I would contact a vet and see about getting some for her. The sooner the better. Little ones can go down hill so fast.
 

raykour

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This calf will die if her fluid levels are not kept up. She will get acidotic and have all sorts of other problems.

First thing you need to get fluids into her.....with an esophagael feeder. You need to use a pre-formulated electrolyte powder you can get at most farm/ranch/feed stores. You need to get her caught back up on fluids, so she can have 4 pints 3 times per day. It is helpful if the powder contains sodium bicarbonate and dextrose. I also give them a few pints of milk twice a day at least 20 minutes after the electrolyte solution. They still need nutrition.

Next you need to address the cause of the scours. At this point, penicillin will probably be your best bet. If she has a bacterial infection, it will help and if she does not, I personally believe it won't hurt because if you do nothing, probability is this calf will die. A 100 lbs. holstein calf needs about 4 cc of penicillin one time per day injected into the muscle. This is more than the label calls for, but it is appropriate.

Now you need to sooth the gut, by syringing her a dose of pepto bismol or similar twice per day.

You can also give her a probiotic, like probios, to help her get.

If you can get her back ahead on the fluids and stop the diarrhea, she will feel better and want to suck her bottle. Until then, she will need to be forced the fluid and nutrition she needs to survive.
 
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skylavaulter

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Ok...so she had a firmer yellow stool this evening. It was her first stool in 12 hours. Her temp is 102.4 and her lungs are clear. Nose is ok. Got a quart of fluids in her over the course of the day including electrolytes and probiotic. She is drinking water out of her bucket but wont accept milk from it. We are still having trouble with the bottle and will be going out tomorrow to look for a calf tube. She was on her feet this evening off and on for 10 minute spurts...even hopped once like she was trying to play. Ears are up. She's still suuuuper wobbly on her feet. Just walking around she looks like she's about to tip over. Calling the vet tomorrow but do you guys think the wobbling is related to her being undernourished and dehydrated, or should I consider other things?

Thanks so much for the replies so far.
 

Craig Miller

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Did you try to let her drink the milk from a bucket with out a nipple like she does the water? Did you get some milk on your fingers and put them in her mouth then lead her to the milk in the bucket?
 
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skylavaulter

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Yeah we tried to get her to drink it from a bucket with no luck. I got her to take 1 1/2 pints from a bottle this morning. Stool is stinky, yellow and somewhat formed but she was laying down when she pooped. She almost fell over today trying to walk. We are at tractor supply now getting a tube.
 

raykour

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With her temp good and her stool firmer and yellow, I would say not to give her an antibiotic at this moment.

She is weak, possibly has some acidosis. Electrolytes with bicarb will help correct that.

Taking water is good, but what she really needs is milk or electrolytes, not water. At least in my opinion. If she gets too much water, and doesn't take in other minerals, her chemistry will get off balance.

Never a bad idea to have some antibiotics on hand though.
 
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skylavaulter

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Ok...we tubed her (how nerve-wracking! !!) With 2 quarts of electrolytes an hour ago. Then we pulled her out of the barn and into our yard, encouraging her to stay up and walk. About 45 minutes later and I just had to put her into our paddock because she was running (RUNNING!!! :D ) into the woods. She's still up and exploring. Its amazing what a difference in such a short time frame. We picked up some penicillin just on case, but hopefully we can get her on track using fluids.
 
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skylavaulter

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How long should we be pushing electrolytes? Someone here said 2qts 3x a day, but for how long? Should I still give her a quart of milk replacer in between the electros? Thanks so much for the help so far. It means so much.
 

chippie

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be careful with the electrolytes, you can over do them. Read the package about the dosage. She needs the milk more than the electrolytes.
Milk is her nutrition - protein and fat. Electrolytes do not have any nutritional value.
It's good that she will drink water from a bucket.
Good luck with her.

ETA: Do you know how to tell when she is full?

you may find this link (publication) helpful: https://www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/pubs/asc161.pdf
 

raykour

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The 2 qts 3 times per day would be if she is refusing feed and not getting any intake and continuing to lose fluid through diarrhea.

If the diarrhea has decreased and you got the 2 quarts of electrolytes in her and she perked up, HOPEFULLY, she will be hungry for her next meal of milk and you can continue on feeding her as normal.

However, if she refuses the next feeding, you should tube her again with the milk and continue to do so until she starts to suck the bottle. You only need to continue with the electrolytes if she is continuing to lose fluid through the diarrhea.
 

polledbull

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I would use draxxin instead penecillin , alot better drug, I use spectham and legacy injectable as well when we have a scouring calf. , it works good for us,
 
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skylavaulter

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Well it's been a roller coaster week with this calf. We tried two doses of penicillin Monday and Tuesday because she spiked a fever and started coughing (I really thought we were going to lose her Tuesday into Wednesday). Then read online that penicillin does squat for pneumonia. Back to Tractor Supply Wednesday- picked up a bag of medicated Sav-A-Calf with oxytetracycline and zeomycin in it. She's made a full turn around. It's like she's a completely different animal. She's standing on her own when we come into the barn, mooing when she hears us coming, taking a bottle and bumping it with all her might, sucking our fingers after the bottle is empty, running and jumping around like a calf should. No weakness, steady gait, basically she's at 100%. I'm amazed. Highly recommend Sav-A-Calf for anyone with a scouring / pneumonia calf!!! Thanks so much for all your help guys!
 

A.J.

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Glad to hear that. Sounds like she is on her way now. Hopefully no more bumps along the way for her.
 

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