Twin question

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Jan 6, 2017
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Near the Mason Dixon line
This morning I found a pair of twins out in the pasture. The bull calf was about 60 Lbs. and very strong, nursing and so on. The heifer was a little bit bigger than her brother, but was very weak and lethargic. The mother is young and seemed very confused and chose the bull calf as her own and followed him everywhere, thus leaving the heifer alone. I watched for a little bit and when I realized that the mother showed no interest in the heifer I brought the heifer into the barn. I have been trying to give her colostrum as well as milk replacer and she will not suck at all. The milk goes into her mouth and she swallows part and spits the other out. She is starting to get up, but she shakes as she is weak and tires out after only a few minutes and falls back down. I have a tube feeder, should I resort to that? Is there any way that I can stimulate the sucking instinct? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
I've had good luck with Nursemate ASAP and a shot of Vitamin B Complex on sluggish calves and all my calves get a First Defense bolus, which really helps eliminate scours. Good luck with her!
Little update: tubed the calf as she still would not suck. Gaining a little bit of energy. She will suck on my fingers but as soon as I get the bottle in her mouth she throws and head by and forth and screams her head off, half of it going down and the other coming out. Seems as though she is getting stronger though. Encouraging signs were she wanted to play a little (so she has some energy) and she is passing regular bowel movements. Really hoping that this calf survives. Thanks again for your help.
Last update: Yesterday morning she absolutely refused the bottle and was getting weaker. I tubed her again and that afternoon, something clicked for her. She started coming up to me and grabbing my fingers. I grabbed the bottle and she drank the whole thing. Now she is drinking like crazy and still wants more! Thanks for all of your help everyone.
I'm glad to see there was a lot of good advice on this post. We know we can't save them all and many times we don't, no matter how much we try, so it's exciting when a guy does win a tough one. Your hard work appears to have paid off, congrats!
Hooray, you are lucky! So happy to hear shes sucking, yes dont hesitate to tube, it saved us. I was worried reading this, now ive never had twins, will one be sterile?
Huntet02":j64dnsmt said:
Hooray, you are lucky! So happy to hear shes sucking, yes dont hesitate to tube, it saved us. I was worried reading this, now ive never had twins, will one be sterile?
The heifer twin is a freemartin, she will most likely be sterile.
It's somthing like 90% that she is. There are blood tests that can be run at just a couple of months of age that will tell you for sure.
Heifer/Heifer twins are fertile, and I think the statistic for heifers twins with bulls are 7% fertile

Good to hear she's up and sucking, free martin or not.
Often when the twins are mixed hf/bull they start in the same horn so then the heifer is 99% sterile due to the bull hormones being stronger and passing through the placenta and retarding the heifer hormones. If they are from separate eggs, each in it's own horn, the heifer is more often fertile but it is still a 10% chance. There is a dairy here that has the da#@##d luck getting fertile "freemartin" heifer twins with a bull, and has 3 in the milking herd right now. Of course they aren't technically a "freemartin" then. We usually just sell the heifer twin to a bull off our beef animals, but a vet can physically palpate them at about a year to feel if they have the proper parts....some are very noticeably missing. I will often get a set of twins off a dairy and will check the heifers when they are about 12-15 months and have had a few breed over the years but mostly they aren't. They make great heat detectors with no possibility of the other heifers getting pregnant, and will get "beefier" so make good beef to raise to eat.
Good for you to get her going and that it finally "clicked" that she was supposed to suck.

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