Calf born today - mom not nursing - need help

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by jimandpj, Nov 2, 2006.

  1. jimandpj

    jimandpj Well-Known Member

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    Our new jersey cow had her calf this afternoon. She calved great. Checked on her one hour - nothing. Next thing I know, she's licking something in the field. I run out - and there's a calf there. She did a good job licking him off, but he was never able to nurse. I gave it 1 hour, then tried to help. She was very antsy, and we couldn't get ahold of her to hold her still to help the calf nurse. Finally managed to get the calf into the barn. After another hour, I finally got the calf to drink a bottle of goat colostrum. When Jim got home from work, he caught the cow, and we were able to milk out some colostrum. Got a bottle of that into the calf.

    Timeline:

    2:45 calf born
    5:00 bottle goat colostrum
    6:30 bottle cow colostrum

    Just tried to milk the cow, and got maybe a half gallon, of which she kicked over 1/2.

    The calf is in the barn with two doelings to keep him company and help him stay warm. I thought we were going to lose him there for a while b/c we could not get him to drink anything and he was getting really weak. We finally tried a goat bottle and nipple, and he took that.

    Questions:
    1. How often should I feed him through the night?
    2. How much am I trying to get him to drink?
    3. Should I mix the cow colostrum I got with goat milk to spread out the colostrum? Or feed him all the colostrum first, and then switch to the goat milk.
    4. We're thinking about trying to get him on mom in the morning when it's light out, we can see what we're doing, and she's hopefully more willing to let us help. Is this a good idea or bad idea? Since he's started on the bottle, should we just continue?
    5. This is the first cow we've ever milked - is the letdown (or lack thereof) always this difficult in the beginning? She came from a dairy, but was hand milked for 5 months the end of her last lactation. We worked on her for about 1 1/2 hours and got nothing compared to what is in there.

    Thanks!
    PJ
     
  2. needstoknowmore

    needstoknowmore Rattlin Rock Ranch

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    I don't know much but here is what I would do. I would feed the calf the milk from mom. That way the calf will smell like mom not the goat. And she will be more likely to take it back. If you can get the calf back on mom that would be best for both of them. A way to help incourage the calf to nurse, rub his hiney, under the tail. I used it on goats and know it works on other animals so I am going to think it will work on a calf. I did bottle raise a couple of calves and only fed them a couple of times of day. But some body else could tell you better on that.
     

  3. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    Has she ever raised a calf herself? I'm not sure about what to do about teaching her to bond, but here is what I've done with problem babies before.

    Tie her up in the morning. Have help getting baby into the nursing position along side her. Probably a two person job. Pry his little mouth open, stick the end of the teat in, squeeze milk into his mouth. Watch his reaction. If he's swallowing, then see if you can get the teat into his mouth to find out if he's got enough of a sucking reflex to catch on to the system. You may have to work his jaws a bit. Don't be in too much of a hurry, and the calmer you are, the better it will go.

    We've had to do this with a beef cow momma and calf. She was NOT milking trained, and we had to put her in the squeeze chute. It took him three times a day for a couple of days to truly get the hang of it. Then, they were fine.

    I'm wondering if her teats are big and that he's having trouble getting it into his mouth.
     
  4. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Is the calf vigorous and healthy appearing? Is he alert, walming, showing an interest in life? If so, I would put him back on the cow, and let nature take it's course. I would definitly recomend giving it straight colostrum as long as it lasts. If you are for sure going to keep it off the cow, give it 1 qt of milk 3 times a day to start. No need for night feeding.
     
  5. dagwood

    dagwood Well-Known Member

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    You should only feed the calf twice a day (morning and night). Give him only the colostrom from the cow. Milk the cow out, but only give the calf about one or two quarts of milk to start with. If you give him too much, he'll get scours (manure will turn yellow and runny). The cows milk will gradually turn more normal, as the colostrum is diluted over the course of a few days, but it is important for the calf to get this first milk from his mother, to gain the benifits of natural antibiotics and a boost of nutrients to get him off to a good start.

    Also....in 2-3 days you should start teaching the calf to drink from a pail and keep him away from the Mom when you start this training.
     
  6. jimandpj

    jimandpj Well-Known Member

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    Just gave "hamburger" his 9:00 bottle. He drank 1 liter of his mom's colostrum. He was acting alert and even a little frisky. He didn't down it instantly like he did the 7:00 bottle, and his tummy definitely feels fuller.

    My husband heard Hamburger's little "mmmoooooo" for the first time, and said, "He sounds just like the Fisher Price barn door." :) I'm sure many of you remember that toy as well.

    Sunshine seems to be doing well. Eating and drinking fine - no symptoms of milk fever. She has calmed down a lot. She doesn't seem to be upset that the calf is missing at all. It will be interesting to see what happens in the morning.

    I'm so glad I do not have to be up all night giving bottles. Thanks for all the input.

    PJ
     
  7. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No offense, but sounds to me like you have the "new mommy jitters".........lol
     
  8. dagwood

    dagwood Well-Known Member

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    Yep....LOL! Wait till she has to use a set of birthing chains.....WooHoo.......... :dance:
     
  9. 65284

    65284 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Almost always, unless the calf is injured or seriously sick, if you put mom and baby in a stall or someplace together and leave them alone they will work it out.
     
  10. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    Yes, you are right. We had a older mare who had her first foal at age 18. Took them over night to get the logistics worked out. :) The trick was having the humans stay out of it. :angel:
     
  11. jimandpj

    jimandpj Well-Known Member

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    tinknal - no offense taken at all. I absolutely have the new mommy jitters!!

    dagwood - birthing chains are for my husband - not me! :p

    Things are well this morning. Jim just milked Sunshine and got about 3 quarts. Hamburger took his bottle. We're going to lock them up together and see what happens.

    PJ
     
  12. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

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    I don't worry about a new calf nursing to much at first, I just keep an eye on them from a distance and watch for the milk mustache on the calf...if you are hovering around or changing their routine, that alone will keep the calf from nursing...

    I swear I have watched and watched but I still haven't seen a brand new calf nurse..the cow and calf seem to be good at slipping out of sight when it's time to nurse for the first week or so.

    As long as the calf is active and not bellowing and bumping the cow's udder and she isn't kicking him away, I would assume all is well.

    Our first calf we were expecting the calf to start nursing immediately and we started getting upset and shoving the cow and calf together, tried tieing the cow and shoving the calf to the udder, nothing worked. But when we stopped all that, went in the house, came back later...the calf had a milk mustache so mother nature took care of it.
     
  13. jimandpj

    jimandpj Well-Known Member

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    The mom is a 4 year old from a dairy, so this is the first calf she would have been allowed to raise. I was told that the calf needed colostrum within 45 minutes of birth. I watched from the house with binoculars, and she wouldn't let him get near her udder. The wind was blowing very fiercely yesterday, so the very low wind chill temp wasn't helping. Her front right teat is also blind (which is why she was sold from the dairy).

    Do you all not follow that 45 minute "rule"?

    They've been together so far all day. Nobody has seen him try to nurse yet (he did have a bottle this morning). I had to go to the feed store (the children forgot to tell me we were low on goat feed until we were completely out!), but I'll go watch for awhile after lunch. He was really cute this morning. We had a frost on the ground and he was doing those little jumpy steps. If he doesn't nurse from her, I won't mind bottle feeding. I'll still let them stay together - so he will hopefully know he is a cow and not a goat.

    PJ
     
  14. Hammer4

    Hammer4 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure I heard of the timeframe for calves getting colostrum before, so I went and looked. I found lots of different times, some as short as 25 minutes, some as long as 4 hours.

    This link states what I believe, calves can absorb the immune system boosters for the first day and a bit more:

    http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/html/ec/ec1370/#anchor5009832

    "Colostrum milk

    Make sure the calf gets it within the first 2 to 3 hours after birth. Colostrum is the calf's only source of protection from many infectious agents. Research indicates that newborn calves are only able to absorb the immunoglobulins in colostrum within the first 24 to 36 hours."
     
  15. dagwood

    dagwood Well-Known Member

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    We only allow our calves the milk from the mother for the first 2 days after birth. We seperate the calf and train it to drink from a bucket from that point on.
     
  16. jerzeygurl

    jerzeygurl woolgathering

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    this is normal behavior for first mom jerseys, we have lost one to just letting them do thier thing, thing is they never did and we lost him. so we always bring up the mammas ahead of time for them to get used to lot and to watch for bonding. only feed twice a day, and from what vet has told me, colostrum in cows is not as urgent as other animals im sure if it got any it did good. make sure momma doesnt butt the baby, if you were going to milk her, put her in stanchion or headgate and let baby go at it. weve always heard let mamma #1 and #2 on baby so it will smell like her, supposed to work for orphans as well?.Mamma will have colostrum up to a week. but usually less than that.

    Make sure baby is breathing good and does not show signs of hypothermia,and watch the poo for consistancy. scour tablets always good thing to have on hand.
     
  17. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    Never heard of 45 minute window of opportunity for first nusing. Our cows do their thing in the pasture, and we don't watch the time. Sometimes, I think folks forget that critters do fine most of the time on their own. (most of the time)

    I think they may not bond now that he's a day old, and she's not used to being a real momma. Good thing you don't mind bottle feeding!
     
  18. DJ in WA

    DJ in WA Well-Known Member Supporter

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    From my Merck Veterinary Manual:

    "Calves should receive quality colostrum at 8-10% of body weight in the first 12 hours after birth."

    10% of a 60 lb calf is 6 lbs. At about 2 pounds per quart, that's 3 quarts colostrum. Seems like that's alot for a calf to down in the first 12 hours, but maybe I'm wrong.
     
  19. ozark_jewels

    ozark_jewels Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The way our newborn Jerseys drain their mommas.....not a problem!! :)
     
  20. Patt

    Patt Well-Known Member

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    I'll tell you from my perspective the best thing to do is let them sort things out. :) The first goats and calves we had born here I worried myself silly about them getting colostrum quick enough. The babies seemed too weak and wobbly and when they did latch on the mothers seemed too nervous and antsy to let them nurse much. What I found was if all the people went away mom and baby sorted things out and everyone was a lot less stressed.
    It's kind of like all the worries about the birth process 99 times out of 100 it's going to go fine. It's good to keep an eye on things and make sure they progress all right but realistically the chance of something going wrong is really slim. Problem is it seems like there is a lot of info out there about worst case scenarios and horror stories and you hardly see the ones about everything went just fine. Books for newbies tell you to have all sorts of stuff on hand and be prepared for every possible situation. It's just overkill most of the time.
    What I've found is that having watched quite a few births I have a pretty good idea of what's normal and I think I would be able to spot it if it wasn't. So experience will help. :)