SOS Sick Calf! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

Long story, no time, but we now have a Guernsey with a heifer (bred to ?)calf, PLUS four Holstein calves (bulls) and two are sick, one more so than the other. Don't ask, it was Hubby's package deal...also got twenty some chickens, a few ducks, three turkeys, and three rabbits and LOTS of farm STUFF in the bargain. (Am keeping the new poultry separate from our current residents. Dogs are moving to the laundry room again at night, putting new poultry in their kennel and run.) Got electrolytes for the sick calve's water, this is a respiratory type illness with coughing, am getting some penicillin today. Made a draft free place in the tack room, put them in there together. Boy, is it fun to learn how to milk! Hubby says she milks better when he hugs her. Our Guernsey has an A+ personality and temperament. Anyway, am ready to hear more cow advice, pile it on! Thanks!

-- Mumsie (, October 02, 1999


What you need with livestock is a) a real sharp eye for a sick animal, and b) a good vet. Hope you have both.

-- Peter Errington (, October 02, 1999.

You were smart to separate the two sick ones from the well ones, and you were smart to put them in a draft free area. Make sure they stay warm, you can tie old blankets on to their backs with baling twine if necessary. The electrolites are also a good idea, respiration problems can lead to dehydration. Are they eating? If they are, this is a good sign.

My rule of thumb, if my cows are coughing, etc, but still eating - I leave them alone (meaning I don't medicate). Cows get coughs and colds just like we do, and just like humans the best thing is not always to thwart the body's natural healing mechanisms by injesting medications.

Sometimes animals become sick after being transported... could be a general malaise.

I would keep them warm, make sure they are drinking and eating, and give them lots of personal attention.

I had a Jersey cow that was near death, skin and bones... I had just got here (bought her that way). I made sure she had all the food she could eat, and spent much time with her brushing, petting and talking to her. I firmly believe that the attention she got really helped. Sick cows should be treated with the same gentleness, care and respect as sick people.

Good luck with your calves!

-- (, October 02, 1999.

You didn't mention the age of the calf. If they did not get colustrum at birth or within 12 hours, you have an uphill battle. If the cow was milked, and the baby denied access to the first milkings after birth, no colustrum would be available for the baby. Antibodies against all sorts of evil are passed from moma to baby in the first 12 hours after calving. After that, the stomach lining in the baby changes and can no longer absorb the antibodies.

It is too late now, but you can get powdered colustrum to keep on hand for orphaned calves or ones from dry momas. I always have some on hand, use it about once a year.

If the little bulls are already sick, the antibiotics are a good start. Take a sample of manure of each to the vet and have him check for worms. It is cheaper to "go to the vet" then to have him visit. I have taken calves in the back of a truck (calf in a dog shipping crate) to the vet and saved the $75 trip fee.

While the bulls are small and manageable, go ahead and steer them if you don't intend to use them for breeding. You can steer them at birth with no adverse effects. Makes them worth more at the market, as buyers pay more for steers than bulls.

Don't just pour the sweet feed to them, you will give them "scours". A bunch of hay with a pound or two of feed a day till they get used to rich food.

Also, "B" vitamins are very useful for sick/down bovine.

Good luck

-- Cattleman (, October 02, 1999.

Are these bottle calves??? If so adding an egg to each bottle seems to help with the scouring problem and gives them extra protein. There are a number of things that can affect bottle calves. I would highly suggest taking them to the vet and getting some expert advice. We did bottle calves last year for the first time and we only lost one calf out of the 10 and that was due to a recurrence of pneumonia. If the vet puts them on anitibiotics, keep them on the drugs longer than the vet says - that was our problem with the pneumonia recurring. Also use the larger bottles, the 1 1/2 qt size for each feeding, the qt size isn't enough.

-- Beckie (, October 03, 1999.

Thanks, calf hanging in there...will keep you posted. Still hasn't turned the corner though.

Very tired. Hubby and I had a big laugh when we heard little boy say, "What's happened to our lives?! We were meant to live in the city!" Then later he asked, "Are we going to get a pig and a horse?" Kids, go figure.

-- Mumsie (, October 04, 1999.

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