new calf

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Sarah J, Jan 14, 2004.

  1. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Hi. I've been lurking around for a few weeks. I have a new calf - two days old. This is my first calf ever. I've done the reading and research, but this is my first *practical* experience with a calf, and some things I just can't seem to find information on.

    Is it normal for a calf to not want to stand up to nurse the bottle? He's only been here since last night and refused to even consider taking it - to the point of spitting it back out again, regardless of what I did. So I let it go last night and fed him first thing this morning, before dawn. I've made him get up and once up he seems fine and walks around following me. He always seems hungry, too. I understood he should only drink about 2 - 3 quarts of milk replacer a day, but he wants to drink two quarts at *each feeding!* I won't let him... Can too much give him scours? He had one bowel movement that was pretty runny this evening. How much milk is too much? He's from a dairy farm of holsteins and I guess I don't know what they bred the cow to, but he's black and white and about 40 - 50 pounds?

    When should I get concerned about him not getting up on his own? Or am I past that already?

    -Sarah
    (majorly paranoid since I just lost a ewe to pregtox last week!)
     
  2. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    New babies do sleep quite a bit but they shouldn't feed laying down. I'm wondering if you're keeping him someplace that is extra warm, that will make them dopey or he could be a lazy calf. Do you know if he was a natural delivery or assisted? Sometimes calves that are pulled have sore muscles and can be a bit lethargic.
     

  3. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    I don't know. They didn't say anything was unusual about his delivery, but I didn't think to ask, either. He's in the barn, with a thick pile of straw to lay on. *I* don't think it's particularly warm, but then, I'm not a calf, either.

    I've been making him get up to eat. I'm concerned about his apparent lack of energy and then the runny stool...but I think I fed him too much yesterday...how concerned *should* I be? Vet call?

    -Sarah
     
  4. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    This morning when I went out to feed him, he tried to get up on his own. Fell on his face as he over-balanced. I'm *guessing* that this is because he hadn't practiced getting up on his own for the last day...

    But he bounced around the pen after me and seemed much more perky today than yesterday. I'll keep an eye on him, but it could just be that I over-fed him? I'd not feel like getting up or doing much if I had over-eaten, either...

    -Sarah
     
  5. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

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    I always hate giving advice long distance but FWIW. New calves can be lazy and uncoordinated. If they've been allowed to nurse a few times sometimes they don't to want to take a bottle, they want the real thing. Sometimes they get such a belly full when they nurse they don't drink much for a day. Did the place you bought him from get colostrum into him?

    If he's getting up and bouncing around the pen and drinking his bottle it 'sounds' like he's doing OK. Keep an eye on his stool, if it stays watery you might have a problem.

    For a holstein you should work him up to 4 quarts a day, we always fed 2 quarts at a feeding. Check the instructions on your milk replacer. If you are in a VERY cold climate he might need even more. He should also have fresh water and a little calf starter feed available too.
     
  6. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Watch the stool. Brown is fine, even if a bit running. Yellow is OK, may indicate too rich of a diet. White indicates full-blown scours and needs treatment. I use to follow the milk replacer with all of the warm slightly sugared water they wanted to fill them up (hydrate them).

    Before you feed the calf play with it for at least a couple of minutes, such as rubbing and talking to it and letting it see, but not have the bottle. It is said to help stimulate their appetite.

    I also caution against using the standard red rubber nipples which come on nursing bottles. Their opening is usually so big the calf gulps, rather than sucks down the milk. If they were on Mom they would have to suck fairly hard, creating a lot of saliva in the process. The saliva helps in digestion. I like the hard rubber 'suck hard' nipples sold by McCarville Dairy Supplies. Located at 322 High Street, Minderal Point, WI 53565. 608-987-2426 is the last number I had for them. If you purchase from them, also ask for a copy of their two booklets, "Raising Calves Isn't Just for Kids" and "McCarville's Calf Rearing Ssytem: The Bottom Line is Healthier Calves Make Healthier Cows". I suspect if you sent the $2 and a SASE they would send them separately. IMHO, a wise investment for anyone raising calves.

    Also feed with the neck curled up. It helps close the feeding tube in their throat so the milk goes into the proper stomach.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  7. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    As of this morning we have a very perky and happy calf...okay he's lonely, but I'm getting a second one this afternoon for him - born yesterday morning. So they'll be four days apart in age.

    At noon yesterday he jumped up (he got up on his own just fine all day yesterday) and ran toward me, running headlong into the fence...smashed his nose and shook his head a bit as he tried to figure out what had happened. I couldn't stop myself from laughing! :haha:

    He's drinking about 3 quarts now and I'll work him up to 4 by the end of the weekend. That's what the replacer directions say, too. I gave him another two quarts of warm water yesterday when he seemed extra hungry - that satisfied him.

    I also picked up some electrolyte packets and antibiotics from teh vet's office to have on hand just in case it gets bad or the new calf has problems. Anything else I should think about? He has fresh water in a bucket and I gave him alfalfa hay, which is all we have here. What's "calf starter"? I don't want him eating grain - just hay...and later, grass. Temp here has been in the mid to upper 20's lately, dipping to the teens at night...I expect it to get colder toward the end of the month, though. This is Northwest Iowa, after all. :)

    -Sarah
     
  8. SHELBY

    SHELBY Well-Known Member

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    If he is only 40 to 50 lbs I would take a little longer to get him up to 2 qt per feeding he may scour on you maybe give him a little in the afternoon instead to make up for the difference.... If you don't plan on giving him grain (calf starter) them you will have to keep him on the replacer longer to make up for not giving him grain I would think..
     
  9. steff bugielski

    steff bugielski Well-Known Member

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    I read this thread with much interwst. I am planning on getting my first calf next week( depending on availability ). I would like to ask you experts a thing or two if I may. At what age can a calf go outside,mind you I'm in NY with temps around freezing today but we all know how cold it was here. I also have 30 goats, all ages, out in the pen he will be in. Is that ok. I can seperate him at night.
    Any help is appriciated.
    ps. he will be for meat.
    steff
     
  10. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

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    Sarah, glad to hear he's up and around. Like Shelby said calf starter is a grain mix. My background is commercial dairy and I haven't tried calf raising without grain. Grain is much cheaper than milk replacer so the objective was to get them eating grain as quickly as possible and wean them from milk at 6-7 weeks. The studies that I saw said that rumen development was actually better if they didn't get hay until they were weaned. We were a grass based dairy, but they still got grain when they were young.

    Like I mentioned in my first post I hope the calves are getting colostrum before you are getting them. I can't stress enough how important this is to successful calf raising. This is how the calf receives most of it's immunities to fight disease. Also you mentioned that you were bringing in another calf. Is it from the same herd? If not I would keep them seperated for a few weeks at least to make sure they are both healthy. I've seen some very sad train wrecks when people have combined calves from different herds, mortalities of 80-90 percent. Different herds have different 'bugs' that they accumulate immunities too, when you start mixing them up you can end up with all kinds of problems.

    Here's another site on calf raising:

    http://www.calfnotes.com/index.html

    Good luck!
     
  11. Jackpine Savage

    Jackpine Savage Well-Known Member

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    I meant to second Ken's advice on McCarville. We used his milk bars and fed calves in a group. They worked very well.

    There is a lot of variability in the typical red bottle nipple. After they're used for awhile they all open up. It's handy to have a few of the old ones around to train new calves.
     
  12. Sarah J

    Sarah J Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the two calves are from the same herd. They got their colostrum - I told them that if I was bringing them home that young that I wanted to bring home some colostrum, too, for them and that was no problem for them - so they've gotten about two and a half full day's worth of that.

    I guess I didn't know that the grain was used to help wean them...I have a grain mixture for my goats and sheep that is corn, wheat, oats, and soy, with mollasses mixed in...about 18% protein...would that be okay for starting them out? When do you take them off the grain and just go straight to hay and then to the pasture? I hesitate on the grain because it's VERY hard to get non-medicated and non-GM grains in this area...*everyone* grows the GM grains. And my coop only gets the local grains...if I order grains from outside the area, then they bring in the bagged commercial feeds that all have the medication in htem, that I don't believe in (unless necessary - not to just feed them on a regular basis).

    I guess I'm stumped now. *Right now* we're doing milk replacer (which also has medication in it...grrr...) and alfalfa hay - which they aren't doing anything with right now, as well as a bucket of water available at all times - they've sniffed at it, but are mostly ignoring it.

    -Sarah