Failure to Thrive

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by dosthouhavemilk, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am very concerned about Calliope, a two and a half month old heifer calf. She doesn't look good at all and dad thinks she might not make it. We have an extremely low mortality rate with calves that hit the ground alive. I think the last one we lost was an hour old heifer twin to a bull who wasn't formed properly(lost her two yars ago). We almost never lose calves....We don't generally check gender til after they have received their colostrum, though we can tell just by body shape and weight what they are, so bull calves are as well cared for as heifers. ;)

    The thing is she was out with her mother, Penelope, for five days and the first day we brought Penelope in and milked her three "good" quarters...well they were horrible. The next day was better but Calliope looks like she never got any good colostrum. It is so frustrating! I stalked that cow three days in a row and she never showed me where she hid the calf. So we weren't able to garantee she got that vital colostrum (we aim to do so with most of the calves, even if all we do is milk the cow in the field, bottle feed the calf and leave it for a day or so).

    I feel so helpless because there isn't much we can do for her. :waa:

    Sorry, just venting I suppose.
     
  2. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    There are colostrum replacers on the market at feed stores, but can't think of the trade names right now, it sounds to me like you need to catch it and bottle or tube feed it, just letting it go downhill which it will do very quickly shouldn't be your only option.
    Although at two and a half months I would think your best bet is milk replacer and a vitamin shot if you want to save it, assuming you haven't already tried that.
    You sure it doesn't have scours ? If it does an electrolyte quench is necessary also available at feed stores, or you can make your own.
    Good luck.
     

  3. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    She finally showed up at five days of age and was brought into the barn. We have a dairy farm and they are raised in the barn by us...which is why we have such a low mortality rate.
    We had kept some of Penelope's colostrum and so she got that after she came in. Unfortunately, Penelop disappeared and we have not found her body yet. :( So she didn't have much of a supply before we switched her to milk replacer. If we weren't dealing with Johne's we could feed milk and it wouldn't be as big an issue.

    She has been weaned off of milk replacer (we wean at about two months). Hopefully we will have a couple more heifer calves in a little bit so we can buy more milk replacer and I will start feeding her milk replacer again. She has free choice of Primer 1. She just isn't doing well. Her penmate, Jacquee, who is a week younger will be headed outside with four others and Calliope will have the pen to herself. Since a companion hasn't helped, being a singleton may help her.

    What kind of vitamin shot?

    Thanks for the advice, I should have pointed out she was under our care since being five days old.
     
  4. herefordman

    herefordman Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to hear you can't find Penelope, that doesn't sound too good.
    I normally give our newborns Vitamin "A" shots at the same time as tagging them, normally within the first three-four weeks or so, it gives them a little extra help when they're small.
    Maybe try a feed additive like Rumensin, its a digestive enhancer and coccidostat, and conditions the rumen to accept and digest grain easier, also rolled oats is high energy and isn't as "hot" as COB, it may respond better to feed that isn't as difficult to digest as whole grains, cracked or rolled grains are more digestable.
    Sometimes they just don't do well, and no matter what you try it just doesn't help, that really just sucks sometimes.
    Good luck
     
  5. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We know Penelope is dead, she just chose somewhere where the smell did not reach us. So we have been waiting for the vultures to show us, but they haven't shown us either. Penelope was having a hard time and she ahd a week for her udder to shape up or she was going to be shipped. At elast this way she didn't end up going through a sale and ending up at a slaughterhouse...though we are out the money. We will stumble across her eventually...maybe some of the trespassing hunters will find her adn complain. :rolleyes:

    I'm not sure what all is in Primer 1 but I do know it contains an antibiotic for coccidiosis. It is supposed to replace roughage and it grows some big healthy heifers. We generally don't feed calves hay until they are six months because it isn't needed.

    I'll look into the Vitamin A. Thanks!
     
  6. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Wow, that's a toughie. It's my understanding that if they don't get adequate colustrum in the first 24 (preferably 12) hours, there isn't much you can do to compensate.

    Since she's not thriving on feed, why not put her back on milk replacer? Or, better yet, can you spare a little real milk?

    Two months seems awfully young to wean a calf that's sickly. :(
     
  7. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Your understanding is correct, which is why it more venting than anything. Because she will either make it or she won't. It wasn't for lack of trying either. As soon as we saw what Penelope was producing that first milking in I stalked her in search of her calf but she never showed me. We had some frozen colostrum we were going to thaw for her but couldn't locate the calf on the 80+ acres.

    She has actually improved since she got her own pen. She is drinking well and eating her Primer 1 happily. She still looks pretty bad and is thin but her condition has improved.

    We are still waiting on four more animals to calve (the first one is a bull calf) and it doesn't make sense to buy milk replacer unless there are some more heifers that are going to need it. it does ot keep well and is expensive.
    The concern about milk from our cows is that we have only had one year of being Johne's free so far (and that was with a fecal test that we haven't received the negative on yet..though it has been 5 or 6 months now) and we agreed to feed only mother's milk and milk replacer to our replacement animals.

    She didn't look so bad when she was weaned. She actually stayed on milk replacer longer than we normally keep them on it.

    Usually they die before 8 months if it was terribly bad. She will be in the barn until next spring, so she will be pampered and we will do what we can to help her out.