Need advice

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by mamahen, Mar 13, 2005.

  1. mamahen

    mamahen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm looking for some good old cow advice for a friend.

    She has a herd of first freshners this year. Their first time having their own calves born on their farm & it's not going well, they've lost 2 out of 3.

    I did give her some advice, but would like to find more. I'm going with the goat advice I have gotten & read. I figured that would help a little.

    Cow #1 had a calf that was stomped & was bleeded rectally, orally & from the nose. Before that, the cow wouldn't nurse so they brought her in (the calf) the house.
    Cow #2 is doing fine with her calf.
    Cow #3 wouldn't nurse & I guess they didn't realize you should make sure that they nurse quickly. She thinks it never nursed at all. She knows better now.

    The 2 that died had black gums. Why?

    Any info I can pass on, plus I need some good web-sites recommended and some good books. Her husband helped on the farm when he was younger, so he knows a little, but needs a refresher course! They did have a vet come twice. One cow had a prolasped uterus (but both cow & calf are doing fine)

    I hope this makes sense, I feel horrible, but wanted to ask questions, before I go to bed!! :(

    Thanks everyone, tricia
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Was it that the calves could not nurse, or that momma wouldn't let them? It is common for some heifers to get really confused with their first calf. They won't let it nurse. Usually after you restrain them and get the calf on there, they figure it out and mellow out. Some will attack the calf, butting, kicking etc. Same cure...restrain the cow and get the calf nursing.

    All calves should be up and nursing within an hour of birth. If the calf can't get up or can't nurse, even though mom is being cooperative, there is something else going on. It is always a good idea to keep a close eye on heifers having their first calf. You never know what they might do.

    I would not keep a cow that has prolapsed. There could be damage to the reproductive tract and they are likely to prolapse again. Sometimes I will give heifers a second chance at motherhood if they screw it up the first time. Depends on the cow. I've never had the a cow continue to refuse her own calf after restraining her though.

    The black gums have me stumped.

    Jena
     

  3. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Are these heifers beef or dairy and what are they bred to? I'm even more rigid about a prolapse than Jena, they don't get a second chance and they don't have to opportunity to breed again, they join the food chain. It's too late in the game to bring it up but heifers challenge those of us with a lot more experience than these folks have and it might have been wiser for them to have taken the same amount of money they invested and bought mature cows and maybe ended up with less animals in the beginning but better results. It's sounds to me like the first calf had so much internal damage that it would have died no matter what they did unless they could have prevented it from being crushed. Was the heifer left to calve with the herd, was there weather conditions that may have affected behavior or were they crowding her? Third calf should have been managed different but because of the problems they're having I'm wondering if they are interfering too much and putting these heifers off their calves when they should be mothering up or if the heifers are just immature. I'm stumped on the black gums unless they are a breed with dark mouths as a trait. I would recomend they contact a vet on that one.
     
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to tell without knowing exactly what they did with them. Heifers are....heifers.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who is stumped by black gums. Thought I might be missing something.

    Jena
     
  5. evermoor

    evermoor Well-Known Member

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    Heifers are such a pain to calve the first time. So many things can go wrong. I would recommend starting with eaither pairs or older cows ( esp. for newbies). It's too late for this so I would spend a lot of time with these critters. Are they well behaved, easy to work, not flighty. Are there facilities to pen and restrain a cow? Are they crowed? Did the calf get crushed because it was laying by the bale feeder?Just walking the herd and talking to them can change attitudes. It is not fun to work with flighty heifer. The black gums is most likely a breed trait. Jerseys, Swiss, Normande, Angus can all have black tongues and gums. I would just watch them as much as possible. When one is close or suspect anything put her in a pen, and really watch her. Make a low roof stucture for the calf to get away from the bigger cows that is deep bedded when they are ready to be turned out. Then watch for scours
     
  6. tinknal

    tinknal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A little tip on weather calves are nursing or not. If they are nursing thiere mouth will be warm, if they are not nursing the mouth will be cold.
     
  7. mamahen

    mamahen Well-Known Member Supporter

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    OK, I'm feeling better today! This is what else I've found out.


    They are keeping a mixed herd, steers & heifers, all the same age. Hereford crosses. Not a large herd, about 10. They believe that a steer was cut wrong & is still a bull, and he was the one that stomped the calf. However, when they found the first calf, she was in the feeding trough. She lived for about 4-5 days. I think maybe she had pneumonia also, rattley breathing & gasping, on top of the crush injury. When they found her, the mouth, ears & hooves were almost frozen. And if she was dropped into the trough, that wouldn't be good.

    It has been very, very cold for this time of the year in our area. The heifers have a run in shed. They also have a barn they could possibly pen one in. The cows are used to people, but not milk-cow friendly, if you know what I mean.

    Ok, here's the advice I gave them so far: If the calf's mouth is cold, it needs warmed & fed. Calf warmed first, never feed milk to a hypothermic calf. If they won't nurse and is lethargic after being warmed, 1/4 cup coffee (mil told me), then colostrum. Restrain the heifer & try to get the calf to nurse, if it doesn't nurse within the hour (hard to witness, if you're at work, tho). If the calf won't/can't nurse, try milking out the mom & get at least 2 pints colostrum into the calf. They don't want bottle babies, so they should try as hard as they can to get the mom & baby to bond. This is the problem they think they have the mom's aren't bonding at all to the baby.

    I need info that I can print out & give to them. They'd believe more if they could read it, I think. Any good web-sites that give calf advice? I found lots on goats for myself, but the cow info is harder to find. I know what to do, but they want to tangibly "read" what to do!!

    Thanks, Tricia
     
  8. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like their problem is not taking care of the calves, but in taking care of the heifers during birth. They need to check those heifers every 4 hours. 24 hours a day...yes, that means you get up at night and go check with a spotlight.

    Finding a frozen calf in the trough means they weren't checking often enough. I doubt the thing had pnuemonia, it probably had broken ribs. Why did they let it live that long? They should have put it down. Calves bleeding from all orifices obviously have internal damage and won't survive. What a terrible death.

    Usually steers or bulls will ignore calves. They aren't particularly mean to them as some other species might be. I have a bull out with my calving cows right now and he's no problem.

    If they see one showing signs of calving soon (off by itself, in labor, but still up) they need to check back every hour. If the heifer is up and down, obviously straining, or a water bag or calf parts are sticking out, they need to stay there until the calf arrives. If there is no progress after an hour of this...they need to get her in and assist in calving. For them, I'd say call the vet, though pulling a calf is not all that hard. If there is anything but two feet and a nose showing, they definitely need to call the vet!

    If the heifer does drop the calf ok, they need to wait and watch that the calf is dried off, up and nursing. If it is very cold (like zero), they need to get the calf, dry it, warm it, return it to the heifer and make sure it nurses. If they get the calves the minute they hit the ground, they really won't have to be warmed as much as dried. Use straw to rub off the worst of the slime, then use a towel. If it is still cold, bed the calf and put a heat lamp on it. If it is not as cold, but still cold and the momma is taking her time about things (running away, then coming back, etc), they need to take the calf to get it dried.

    If they find another calf that has laid there all night freezing....they need to warm it, but tubing it with warm electrolytes/colostrum is one good way to help warm them. I go straight for the store bought stuff (unless there is some in the freezer from another cow) as wasting time trying to milk a non-milking cow could mean the difference between proper colostrum or none at all. That calf will need the energy and liquids ASAP. Mix it right, according to the directions and mix it well. If it's lumpy, it won't do any good. I put it in the calf bottle with the water, then use a hand mixer with only one whirly thing on it. Stick that in the top of the bottle and mix. Stop and shake the bottle here and there to make sure nothing is sticking on the bottom, then mix some more. They need to learn how to tube a calf. They need to get 2 quarts of colostrum in the calf, not 2 pints. I don't know about the coffee bit. My husband likes to give them whiskey and nothing else...all his calves in trouble die. Gee, I wonder why.

    The more they have to interfere, the harder the bonding will be, but it's awful hard to bond to a dead calf. Ideally, they would identify who's going to calve next and put them in the barn. Out of the wind and cold does wonders. Good bedding helps a lot too to keep the baby from freezing so they don't have to interfere. A heifer in isolation can still be freaky, but they can't run off with their friends and ignore the calf.

    Also, please be sure they know to watch their back if they have to go after a calf. The worst heifer momma in the world will be the one to come charging back as soon as you mess with their baby. Mine will back off if I yell at them (usually), but I've had a couple close calls. It helps if there is one person to get the calf and another standing guard with a large stick, just in case. If the stick is needed, smack that girl right in the nose, as hard as you can. Usually swinging it is enough to make them back off.

    Do a google on "assisting calving heifers" and you get lots of good hits.

    Are these heifers old enough to be calving? I just wonder if they didn't end up with someone else "teen pregnancy" problems. If they are too young, saving calves can be very difficult...coming out with a live, undamaged heifer at the end can be considered a success.

    Jena
     
  9. Debbie at Bount

    Debbie at Bount Well-Known Member

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    That is my problem today. teen pregnacy and I haven't the foggiest idea what to do with this heifer in the barn. Ihave delivered lambs but never a calf!! I bougoht several years ago an older herd of angus X, well being that they are old, I saved all the girls last yar and traded bulls. In the old herd I 've never lost a baby they just do there thing on a few hundred acres. Well obviously a bull calf got to a few of my girls and the one in the barn is probably 14 - 16 months. Her plus is broke so she has this gooey stuff coming out of her and I can tell there is milk in the teats. How long do I have with that plug broken.

    I need help.....
    Debbie