Calves with scours (long)

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Sarah J, Jan 29, 2004.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    My two bottle calves *seem* to be doing well. They are perky, walking and jumping, following me around, mooing and the whole bit. They have alfalfa hay available, but they aren't doing more than sniffing it. They are two weeks old and absolutely refuse (even when I shove it in their mouths) to eat grain, grain mixed with molasses, or anything. All they want is their bottles. But they'll DRINK anything you give them.

    I have been giving them (worked up to it) 2 quarts of calf replacement milk twice a day, plus 2 quarts of water with electrolytes in it, and another quart of milk plus another quart of water to fill the bottle. I do this at intervals, four times a day - milk, then electrolytes, then milk, then water/milk. The temps are getting to -15 degrees at night, today's high was -5.

    They are not shivering. They are playful and seem just fine. They are gaining weight. But all of my friends say they should be dead by now. Why? Because they have had liquid - I mean *water!* - diarrhea since they were a few days old. I talked to my vet who was also surprised, but chuckled and mumbled something about beginner's luck. I have been given a set of antibiotics to give them for three days in addition to what I've been doing (he said not to stop what I was doing).

    So my question is this: why are they supposed to be dead? I have given extra fluids religiously and cared for them, changing bedding every other day. Seems to me that that's what we'd do for our children, too, right? Keep up the fluids. They are in a well protected, fully enclosed building. Is there something else I should be doing with them at this point? And why won't they take the grain, even mixed heavily with molasses? I understood they'd start eating that sweet stuff when they were a few days old. Could this be because they don't have Mom to set an example? Or is it because they really don't feel good with the diarrhea and the grains wouldn't help?

    Obviously, I'm new to this and need all the help and advice I can get. I have never raised calves before, but have to start somewhere...

    Please let me know if there is anythign else I should be doing - or if anyone knows what could be causing the horrid scours (man, that stinks!). Should the antibiotics take care of it? Seems like only three days worth isn't very much...

    -Sarah
     
  2. If you are mixing extra water in with the milk replacer, you can actually cause diarrhea that way. If you are going to give extra fluids (electrolytes) make sure you give only the electrolyte mixture (no milk replacer) and don't give milk replacer for at least four hours. They sell electrolytes that have stool thickeners in them also. It also sounds like a lot of replacer for a two week old calf--even in the coldest of weather (-30) we only feed three times a day, 2 qts each time! Otherwise, we only feed twice a day. They may just be over-eating. That would explain why they have no interest in feed. I would also suggest a calf starter bottle--you know, a milk bottle that you fill with calf starter. It has a nipple with a wide end on it--they suck on the nipple and get a mouthful of grain. We leave them hanging in our calf hutches at all times. If it was a really bad scours (E Coli) they would be dead by now--I think that's what your vet meant.
     

  3. SHELBY

    SHELBY Well-Known Member

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    All the liquid in their diet is causing the scours I would think and also not eating the grain. if their bellies are full why would they want the grain. Something you might try is putting some baby cereal (rice) in their bottle that you are adding the water too. That should help stop them up a little bit. I agree with the vet though and keep giving them all the fluids because of the scours. Something else you could try is to get them on a bucket and once they are drinking out of a bucket without any problems add some grain to it...Another suggestion is to put some milk replacer (dry or mixed) on top of their grain and see if they will attempt to eat it.
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    No, they aren't over-eating, according to what you just said. They are getting 2 quarts of milk replacer twice a day plus the one diluted quart. A total of 5 quarts per day, which is what the vet said they should be getting. And the extra water was what he told me to give... The electrolyte mixture is given in the middle of the day, several hours before and after the milk feedings.

    I also called the vet again tonight and asked why they aren't eating the grain. He said that they really *shouldn't* be eating grain for another week - that a lot of people start them too early and that's why they have problems.

    I guess I'm getting mixed signals. I'm in the heart of cattle country in Northwest Iowa...this is a well-known and respected large animal vet. So I'm doubly confused. Too much milk, not enough milk, too much water, they need extra water...

    I think maybe I'm more confused now than when I posted...

    -Sarah
     
  5. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Listen to your vet. They are the professional.

    I put out a creep feeder for the calves out in the pasture with calf starter/grower in it. They really don't show much interest until they are about a month old. Varies though from calf to calf.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  6. countrygurl

    countrygurl Well-Known Member

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    i bottle raise holstein calves i get them at 1 day old they receive colstrum(sp)
    dont over feed. calves always seem to be hungry good sign in a healthy calf. first 2 weeks: 1 bottle in morening 1 in evening. then i bottle in morening & 2 in evening. alwys offer a water bottle after feeding in morening then i offer a water bottle before evening, feeding water is very important. my calves in general dont show interest in grain till about 3-4 weeks of age with your calves having scours what is saving them is the water & electorlites you are giving them they have scours meds. i crush the tablet and mix in their milk replacer. also i found for me the make a milk replace. that has scour med. in it already this comes in a plastic container. bottle raising calves you have a rule of thumb 50 % survial rate i am running 75-85% you just have to find what works for you

    sometimes a calf just doesnt have the will to live always keep calves in a dry
    & draft free pen flies can be a real problem also i only raise in the fall & winter.

    good luck
     
  7. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Just a couple of things which have been mention on the forum in the past.

    Raw eggs added to the milk replace provides extra protein and is said to help firm up stool.

    You can add cereals to the milk replacer, such as raw or cooked oatmeal, if the openings in the nipple is large enough for it to pass. When I had the salvage grocery I would give the calf I had at that time baby food which reached its expiration date. (And calves don't like strained spinich either!)

    I have added cattle feed pellets to the milk replacer also by putting about a cupful in the and empty bottle and then another cup or so of water to allow it to become soaked. Gave the milk a slightly chocolate color. Be careful to read the label for the pellets carefully.

    When my neighbor finds a downed calf, he adds a shot of liquor to at least the first bottle. He says it often perks them right up.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    When in doubt...

    listen to the vet.

    Jena
     
  9. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Raw eggs we have *plenty* of (I raise chickens - and yes, they're healthy! :) )

    I know that the opening isn't big enough in the nipple for cereal - I'd have to enlarge it. If I don't get the milk powder completely dissolved, it gets stuck and plugs up the hole - which torques off the calves to no end! :D I'd rather not enlarge the nipple, but I *could* get different ones...one for plain milk or water, one for cereal or other thicker stuff.

    What does the liquor do (in theory)? I have plenty of that, but it's usually for me. :haha: Does it help warm them up? Aid in digestion? Or just make the giver feel better?

    I discovered that the scour meds (antibiotics the vet gave me) dissolve beautifully in warm water so I added it to the water bottle. Turned it a lovely pink and they didn't even blink about drinking it right down.

    Sounds like I'm probably doing the right stuff and that adding eggs (one for each bottle?) and maybe cereal to the milk might help. A little extra protein in this weather (still highs in the negative singles, lows in the negative teens) can't *hurt*, right?

    So far, still doing okay...but I am concerned...I'm sure that they aren't *supposed* to have scours for this long! Hopefully things will improve with them even before the weather does.

    Thanks,

    Sarah
     
  10. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

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  11. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hey - Deliver is something I saw at the vet's office. He said that if the electrolytes I was giving didn't help we were going to try that next! Thanks!

    Mountain Dew? Huh - now I'm *really* curious as to what the liquor and MD are supposed to do for them...

    -Sarah
     
  12. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Go with what your vet has said for now. Ask your vet if you can add plain yogurt to their milk, your calves need to get the good bacteria back in their stomachs and yogurt should help. It must be plain live yogurt though-not anything else. Dannon make a good one. Whenever anything human or animal is that ill in our family they get yogurt. You may also want to ask the vet if you could/should maybe stop the milk replacer or dilute it down more to help with the scours, don't stop the water though. I don't think that trying to feed the calves anything else(as in grain or hay) until you get their scours sorted out is a good idea.
    Let us know how things are going, sometimes everyones ideas do start to confuse you, hang in there and do talk stuff over with your vet, hope things go well,

    Carol K
     
  13. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    "What does the liquor do (in theory)? I have plenty of that, but it's usually for me. Does it help warm them up? Aid in digestion? Or just make the giver feel better?"

    Perhaps all three. One of those his father learned it from his father things.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  14. You are doing Ok....But I'd change a few things.Stop duleting the milk replacer down with water....It's not made to be reduced ......always mix it just like the package says.Now..Give 2 quarts (milk..mixed right)in morning (7-8)and some water (1 qt about noon and another about 3).Then 2 qts.milk at 5-7 pm.Add 1 egg onto each 2 qts.of milk .Electrolites in water only.Even 2 eggs per bottle won't hurt,just don't get them too plugged up.Which proubly won't happen.If it does cut back to 1 egg.Give Vitamins..ask Vet bout that.Babys won't eat till their 1 month old and it is better to wait anyway.Then give a hand full of pellets to them after every feeding.Also offer it to them in a small bucket hung on fence.Don't need much in bucket.Maybe 3 hands full.and change it when it looks like they are nibbling in it.Offer a few hands full of hay to them (in another bucket on fence),to give them something to nibble on.Then think about a bucket of water for them.Get them to suck your finger and lower your hand into the bucket.They will start to drink in a few days. Wet and drafts are bad on them.Keep their bedding clean and dry..At first sign of them turning worse,DON"T wait too long before giving medicine .Lots of good advice and it will work for most people.Good luck ..Jack