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Weak Calf

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jwimberly

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I need some ideas from calf experts here. We have a ~45-50 pound 1-2 week old black angus calf we got last Thursday. She seemed a bit malnourished when we got her but she took the bottle good the first time we tried that night. The previous owner said she had received colostrum but selling her because her mother died (all the info I have on momma cow). However, ever since Friday we have had to tube feed her. When trying to bottle feed she shows no interest in it and sometimes just lets her tongue hang out the side. At the advice of our vet we gave her a round of Sustain III calf bolus and she has also had 2 shots of Duramycin-100 (2 ml Dose Sat and dose Sun). Both times I have checked her temp it was 100.2°F and 101.1°F she has also been very lethargic and depressed. We've seen her poop twice and both times it was runny and yellow/green and has urinated several times also. She has been getting a mix of 3 quarts of milk (not soy) and electrolytes per day but has yet to show any signs of getting better and still appears malnourished but I'm afraid to feed her more since we're tube feeding.

Any ideas or opinions as to what this could be or what we should do next?
 

TCRanch

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You have a tiny, orphaned baby that's been through a lot. Kudos on consulting your vet and following their advise. How many times a day are you feeding her? And are you mixing the electrolytes with the milk replacer (yay, no soy!)? My preemies got 1 qt 4 times a day the first few weeks. I'm also a fan of Vitamin B Complex for energy and Nursemate ASAP. I love Sustain III and that should really help with the scours. Have you tried a smaller nipple, like a goat nipple, or cutting/expanding the opening on the nipple you're currently using? There are quite a few links on bottle feeding (search "bottle feeding for newbies", "calf won't nurse", etc). You may want to try placing the nipple in her mouth, moving it in-n-out while stroking her throat or even just holding it in her mouth, clamp down gently. Stimulate the sucking response just like her mama - may want to wear rubber gloves. I've had calves that will initially take the bottle then quit but after a week or so of tubing decide the bottle is the way to go - I always offered the bottle first instead of automatically tubing.

BTW "calf expert" is subjective; I'm just offering my 2 cents from past experience. Good luck and keep us updated!
 

Son of Butch

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TCRanch":3mfa04uh said:
You have a tiny, orphaned baby that's been through a lot. Kudos on consulting your vet and following their advice.
Have you tried a smaller nipple, like a goat nipple, or cutting/expanding the opening on the nipple you're currently using?
I always offered the bottle first instead of automatically tubing.

Good luck and keep us updated!
:nod:
Yes a smaller nipple for a tiny calf is a very good idea.
and best of luck, hope it all turns out well, it's a lot of work and too often doesn't end well no matter how hard you try
 
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jwimberly

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TCRanch":1d6umkcv said:
You have a tiny, orphaned baby that's been through a lot. Kudos on consulting your vet and following their advise. How many times a day are you feeding her? And are you mixing the electrolytes with the milk replacer (yay, no soy!)? My preemies got 1 qt 4 times a day the first few weeks. I'm also a fan of Vitamin B Complex for energy and Nursemate ASAP. I love Sustain III and that should really help with the scours. Have you tried a smaller nipple, like a goat nipple, or cutting/expanding the opening on the nipple you're currently using? There are quite a few links on bottle feeding (search "bottle feeding for newbies", "calf won't nurse", etc). You may want to try placing the nipple in her mouth, moving it in-n-out while stroking her throat or even just holding it in her mouth, clamp down gently. Stimulate the sucking response just like her mama - may want to wear rubber gloves. I've had calves that will initially take the bottle then quit but after a week or so of tubing decide the bottle is the way to go - I always offered the bottle first instead of automatically tubing.

BTW "calf expert" is subjective; I'm just offering my 2 cents from past experience. Good luck and keep us updated!

We are feeding her 3 times a day and started out mixing electro's w/ milk but vet recommended not mixing so we feed milk, electro, milk. We also haven't tried a smaller nipple mainly because she took the bottle well the first night we got her so I figured that wouldn't be the problem but we have tried several times rubbing her throat and holding her mouth shut and moving in-n-out. We do that every time before we decide to tube feed. We'll give it more time, last night and this morning she did seem slightly more spunky so at least that's a good sign.
 

Koffi Babone

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If your calf is not dehydrated, it does not need electrolytes.

Milk or milk replacer is better as it contains more energy and building blocks (sugar, fat and protein). You need to give about 10% of it body weight in milk, i.e. 5 lbs of milk...
 
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jwimberly

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Well we may be on the upward swing. My wife and daughter were able to bottle feed her 3 pints of milk yesterday afternoon and she was also able to bottle feed the heifer at 6 this morning 2 qts of millk. Guess the heifer just needed a woman's nurturing touch. I'm with you Koffi I think we are done with electrolytes as long as she doesn't start scouring again.
 

JCcattle

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I've heard electrolytes are more effective not mixed with milk? Just wondering about that.. like you'd give electrolytes at one feeding then milk at the next or straight electrolytes til it perks up and then milk.. I could be wrong tho but I try not to mix the 2! I'm glad she's doing better!
 

farmerjan

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Just my 2 cents; do not mix the electrolytes and milk. It seems to cause them to scour. I forget the exact reasoning, something about the two counteracting each other. Also, try mixing in some yogurt in the milk. The cultures in it will do wonders for their gut tract. Or use something they call KEIFER or what is touted as "drinkable yogurt" around here. It was very popular years ago for kids that had trouble with "sour stomachs". Cheaper than alot of the pastes you can buy and it will go right down with the milk.
I personally use the "lamb nipple" on the calf bottles. It is half the size of a calf nipple and they seem to do alot better with it. You can make the hole bigger for bigger calves. But if you look at it the size is alot closer to many cows teat size. And if you do tube them, it is easier on their throat to use the smaller nipple when the throat is irritated.

I'm like TC Ranch, I use vit B complex or straight B-12 shots to help get the appetite going .

Yep, us women are just wired to feed babies....my son will tell you that I do too good a job that he won't even try except to get them in the barn and then calls.....MOOOOOOOMMM.....
 

Koffi Babone

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Electrolytes should not be mixed with milk because they are formulated to be mixed with water.

Electrolytes are like Gatorade powder. Would you mix it with milk or juice? If you did, the end product would be too concentrated ("too salty"). The idea behind electrolytes is to replace the salts and minerals the body is loosing (usually because of diarrhea). If the liquid being given is too concentrated, it will have the opposite effect. It will draw water out of the body and dehydrate even more. If you drink something too salty, it does not quench thirst, it dehydrates even more.
 

Jeanne - Simme Valley

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Glad to hear the calf is getting better. Where are you located? I may sound like a broken record, but --- most areas are Selenium deficient. All newborns should get a shot of Selenium - BoSe or Multimin are great products - needs to be purchased from vet. Kutos to you for sticking to it, you should be proud - you saved a life!
 

Katpau

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Never mix electrolytes with the milk replacer. The milk replacer goes into the abomasum (4th stomach) where it forms a clot. That is a necessary part of the young calf's ability to gain nutrition from the milk. When you mix the milk with electrolytes you prevent the clot from forming. The result is you will actually increase diarrhea rather than clear it up while starving the calf. This is how I understood it when the Vet explained it to me. You can alternate feedings if diarrhea is a serious problem. Make sure there is always sufficient time between the two. I don't remember how long he recommended, but I thought he said you could follow up with some electrolytes just 1/2 hour after the milk.
 

Katpau

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When I am first introducing a calf to a bottle, in addition to some others recommendations, I will rub the calf everywhere but especially on his rear including around the rectum and where they pee. Sometimes I use a warm wet cloth. I think it imitates the licking a cow does. This will almost always make them defecate and pee. For some reason that seems to trigger their appetite. I have had weak calves who were showing no interest in sucking take the bottle willingly after they emptied themselves.
 

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