A girlfriend with a Dexter cow has brought her calf to us to save. He's about a week old and we've had him for 3 or 4 days. His mother has the most grossly deformed udder that I have ever seen, with enormous "goat" shaped teats that are so bulged out they are splitting. Though she seems to have plenty of maternal instinct, the little tyke couldn't seem to latch on. My friend took him inside the first couple of days and fed him powdered colostrum (in case he didn't get any from Mom) and goat's milk from a bottle. She works and can't keep up with a feeding schedule, and we had a Beltie calve a little heifer the same day he was born. So, we've been trying to graft little "Boo" onto Oreo. He seems to have nipple confusion, and has a very inefficient suck. We have the little trio penned up and put Boo on first, before letting "Biki" nurse her mom. He understands where milk comes from, but seems to sip and snack, not ever really getting on and having a proper meal. He had a couple of decent nursings the day before yesterday and I thought we'd turned the corner. He was bulking up and seeming to thicken up in the middle. But yesterday and today he's back to the sip thing, and seems lethargic and skinny. He's a smaller breed, but he seems to be falling behind Biki in size already. I'm worried. Any ideas?
What is his temperature? I don't really have any ideas...but temp is always a good thing to know.
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I have saved a few calves in my day and I started doing this at 16 and I am 40 so I have a few years of experience, That being said. Milk your cow and bottle feed the little guy. I would also mix his milk 1/2 and 1/2 with powdered milk. I have saved many a calf this way and if the little guy doesn't have a good suck the best way to save him is the bottle. It will not hurt him and as for goats milk I don't really agree with giving a young calf goats milk. Fat and protien content is different for each animal and you really need alot of natural cows milk fat and the formula will give him extra vitamins. I use Kent calf milk and like it the best. Good luck,
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I agree with the above. Get him on a bottle so you know what his intake is. IF he starts doing better, its not hard to get him back on the cow again. Does his skin tent? is he dehydrating?
Living on a 250,000 acre working ranch, with a Jersey/Beef-X milk cow, sheep,rabbits, chickens and ducks, 2 Maremma Livestock Guardians, ranchhand husband and an English Shepherd who is in charge of it all.
Catherine isn't saying she is giving the calf goat's milk, that was her friend, Catherine is grafting him onto her cow.
Catherine, Rena taught me how to teach a calf to drink a bottle. It took a long time, but when the calf finally latched on and slurped it down, I thought, "whew, glad she has that figured out". Nope, the next day I had to start the whole long process over again b/c she didn't seem to have a clue as to what to do with that bottle. So I worked with her the second time and then after that she had it down. All I had to do was hang the bottle on her door.
Since he seems a bit weak, I'd probably bottle him too to get his strength up and then let him have another try at your cow. Sandy
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You might try switching to one of the soft lamb or goat, don't know which they are for really,nipples that go on a pop bottle. They come in a package of 3 and are soft and pliable. That is what I had to use with Sweet Pea. Her little mouth was so small she couldn't get the regular calf nipple in her mouth properly and did the type of nursing you are referring to, Had the same trouble trying to graft her onto one of my Jerseys. If nothing else works try offering him a warm bowl of milk. Don't put it on the ground but hold it up for him. That is how SP ate until we found the other soft nipple. She was real tiny only weighing 20 lbs.
If you are using a regular nipple and heating the milk to 101 degrees and he is only getting the nipple a little ways into his mouth instead of all the way like a normal calf does then the milk is scalding the back of his mouth and tounge. This will also cause him to play with the nipple and act like he isn't really hungry.
You might also want to give him some probios to get his stomach in proper working order, especially since his feeding schedule has been a little off.
Our sale calves took almost a week to figure out how to latch on well and really nurse. I think because they had been bottle fed and it takes a lot more work to drink from the cow. Since this guy is kind of weak anyway, I would feed him a bottle, then put him on the cow while he's still in that sucking frenzy. That way you know he is getting enough while he's still figuring out how to nurse.
Well, yesterday morning, Boo latched on and nursed himself a full tummy and, again, I thought we'd finally rounded that corner! We left him with his adopted Momma, Oreo, and took my MIL out for Mother's Day. Yesterday evening, we got back and met up with his owner and we immediately went down to the barn to check on the pair. Boo had a hollow tummy ::), and was back to the sip and snack thing, and though he seems kinda "depressed", he wasn't weak. I put my finger in his mouth and he'd alternately suck weakly, or chew on my finger. Nipple confusion from the ease of bottle feeding? I'd put him back on Oreo and he'd suck on a teat and then pull it down, stripping it, then shift to a new teat, repeatedly. Maybe he's a morning guy, or just needs to be really hungry to nurse well? I'm off to check on the boy this morning and will let you know how he's doing. Thanks for the ideas and advice. They are most appreciated.
Last Edit: May 9, 2011 3:38:23 GMT -5 by catherine
I think its because he's a bull calf...our foster bull calf took at least 3-4 days more than the little heifer did to figure out the nursing thing. I think some of it is because they expect to get a full tummy all at once from nursing, rather than the calves that nurse from birth, who learn to eat a bit at a time all day long.
Sorry that I haven't been on lately to give you guys an update on little Boo. He's still with us, and I'm about to decide that he's a fraud. He'll stand around looking listless and hollow and I get scared, but then when you aren't watching, he'll go scampering behind you. He still does that old sip and snack thing, and he still likes sucking on shorts or fingers or whatever he can get ahold of...and it's not a strong feeling suck. However, we've been keeping the trio (Oreo, Biki her heifer, and Boo) together 24/7 in the corral, and apparently he's getting enough to survive. His skin retracts just fine, he's not showing any dehydration, and as I said, he is bouncy, but only when we're not looking! About once a day, if he's hungry enough, he seems to really chow down, and gets a nice full tummy. Maybe I'm just worrying too much. What do ya'll think?
Post by WoodSpryte Farm/Tiffany on May 14, 2011 18:17:53 GMT -5
have you checked his bite and to see if he has a cleft pallet? any malocclusion can cause nursing problems. High pallet or cleft pallet as well. maybe you can weigh him and do a weighing daily or something to see how he is gaining. if he isnt then you know you have to do something. if he is gaining.. No worries.
Tiffany Rich Wife, Mom of 2 army soldiers, and an 10 yo, 13 layers, 2 dogs, beared dragon, and Miss Clarice, Reba , Ruby, Ruthie, Porter & Chuck the steers,Doe Doe and Stella. WoodSpryte Farm Finnsheep & Gourmet Garlic www.woodsprytefarmfinnsheep.webs.com
Sorry I've been away for so long. Things have been crazier than usual around here. But to update you on this little Dexter calf, Boo...well, he seemed to be successfully grafted onto our first calf Beltie heifer, Oreo, alongside her own heifer calf that was born on the same day as he was. He got at least some colostrum from Oreo, and I think some from his own Mom, as well. He was a rather pathetic looking little tyke, hanging his head, and never very strong in the nursing department. We'd separate the calves from Oreo for a few hours, and then put little Boo on her by himself until he seemed to get a bit of a tummy. Then we'd let Biki, Oreo's calf, in for some milk of her own. Bit by bit, Boo seemed to be able to compete for his own share, and so finally, we let them all out of the Barn so they could graze. Everything went well for about a week. We went away on vacation for a week, leaving the Farm to in the competent hands of Boo's owner. A few days later, apparently Oreo began kicking Boo away, and only letting her own baby nurse. Boo's owner called me frantically, and I suggested that she put Boo to our doe goat who had bags of milk, as she had just lost a twin. Boo LIKED that! I suggested that Boo's owner take Boo, Pearl the doe, and her remaining baby, to her own home for ease of care. She did, and the next thing I knew, Boo was nursing from our doe, and from his owner's own two does! By the time we got home, Boo was bouncing around, fat and sassy and LOVING life on three goat mamas! No more of that hang dog thing anymore! We've since brought Pearl and her girl home again, but thanks to his generous owner, Boo has two MORE goat mamas to nurse...for a total of 4 does to one calf! He's still kinda little, but he's spunky and full of spit and vinegar, as they say. I don't know what his problem was, but I think he's a confirmed goat milk lover now! Maybe goats are easier for him to nurse out? Go figure.
Last Edit: Jul 25, 2011 9:42:11 GMT -5 by catherine
I would imagine him being started on goat milk kind of soured him on nasty ole' cow milk. I'm glad he's doing good!
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