calf won't eat : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I need some help from the cattle folks here,

I went over to my hayman's farm Sunday. To make a long story short, he raises a bunch of cattle each year on several farms. Well, we were talking and the next thing you know, he showed me a little calf that was sick. Said I could have it, otherwise it was going to die right there in the field as he did not have time to fool with it. Anyway before everyone gets riled up, he did take the calf to the vet, and the vet gave the calf "a shot" and said the calf had "a virus". Well that was three weeks ago and the little calf hadn't improved any since and my hayman has five farms to run, and just plain doesn't have time to fool with a sick calf. The lady he used to give orphan calves or sick ones to passed away three months ago, so that's why he still had this one.

Here's where I come in :>). I took the 2.5 month old calf home, cleaned out my hay shed, put up a temporary stall, bedded the calf down, went to the store and got pedialyte and goats milk, went by a friend's house who raises cows, got a shot of Liquimyacin LA-200 and some pour on Ivermectin wormer, came home, and gave the little calf a bottle of goats milk (only 24 ozs of which about 1/3 went on the ground), gave the calf the shot of LA-200, and put the ivermectin pour on down his back.

Well calf survived all that tender loving care and is now standing (something he couldn't do yesterday). He is very weak, weighs about 150 lbs is totally skin and bones and today I bought milk replacer (I cannot afford $2.49 a can for goats milk) and bought him a bottle of LA-200. He had a shot of LA-200 today, and has had three bottles of milk (two were goats milk which he wasted about half of the 24 oz, the third was tonights 24 oz milk replacer). I gave him hay and about two handfuls of sweet feed, neither of which were touched all day. He has water, but doesn't drink it that I can tell.

No runny or cloudy eyes, did have worms though, bunches of them...when he pooped we could see them in the manure. He did have a slightly snotty nose (excuse me here) and was dehydrated yesterday, I believe he may still be a little dehydrated.

I am ordering probios oral gel today to get his gut going again, but is there anything else I can give him to get him to eat? He just doesn't seem to want to suck the bottle (he did have a mom, but he got too sick to nurse and she kinda left him out in the pasture as he couldn't keep up). Any ideas - I am fussing over a half dead calf and could use some advice. I am doing whatever I can for the calf - and any help he gets is more than what he would have gotten where he was. I simply want to know if there is a trick to getting a very sick calf to eat again..he is standing and appears to be a lot stronger today than yesterday. No scours, no runny nose, no temp. By the way, the calf is half Pinzgauer (sp?) and half Brahma.

Thanks in advance,

-- Cindy (, December 17, 2001


Cindy, Gosh you are doing a great job on the calf and it sounds like he is responding to it. I might give him some vitamins too. You might talk to some area people and see if there is anyone raising goats in the area. Goatmilk is so good for all baby animals. You might try feeding him a little more often if possible until he starts taking more milk. Sure hope he makes it. Oh you might want to try to get some electrolyte solution down him too. Good luck.

-- Karen in Kansas (, December 17, 2001.

OK enough LA200!! The LA stands for Long Acting. Not deadly to overdose in particular but he'll be fine for a bit. Check the bottle I don't use the stuff and my animal meds compendium isn't handy. Small frequent feedings will help, make sure the replacer is mixed exactly as directed or he will scour. Make sure the calf has good leafly hay to fool with, he won't eat much if any but it should be there. Keep it fresh. I'd give him about 2 cups of black coffee. You can mix it with electrolites and extra water or replacer. It's the caffein your after, and it makes a world of difference. Just one dose a day if he seems to droop. Once he starts to do better introduce a calf starter ration with rumenson in it. Hand feed it, mix in some replacer powder too if it's a real struggle. The rumenson will help with coccidia which he'll be prone to with his worm problem. Oh and reworm in 2 weeks as well. Keep in mind I'm not a vet and getting one is always your best bet.

-- Ross (, December 17, 2001.

If he was full of worms he is probably anemic. Get a bottle of Vit B and give him some, even twice a day for several days. We have goats and a 150# goat I would give about 10cc. If they don't need it, it will go through them. Should help get his appetitie going. I have never used pour on wormer. But you will probably want to check again in 10 - 14 days for more worms as the eggs would be hatching.

-- Leslie in Western WA (, December 17, 2001.

Cindy, to get him to eat something, even if he doesn't want to, take a handful of calf feed and stick it right in his mouth. He's going to spit 75% of it out, but the other ounce or two he'll chew on and get some good out of. It's not the fastest way to get a calf eating, but if he isn't used to feed it may be the only way if he doesn't feel like eating on his own. Grain is foreign food to him right now and they have to develop a taste for it which he can't do if he won't even try it. At that age his rumen is only starting to develop, so hay is not especially useful to him, although he probably prefers to eat it. It's either milk replacer or grain that's going to get him on track. Good luck with him.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, December 17, 2001.

Oops forgot to add you should wear a glove to handfeed calf rations with rumenson. Not especially good for nonruminants and it can pass through skin. Keep it away from horses dogs etc. If your pregnant ask the feed store for an alternative it's not worth the risk. Not that I'm even sure it's "that bad" just risky.

-- Ross (, December 17, 2001.

Should wear a glove anytime you're sticking fingers or hands in anything's mouth. My mother (who is allergic to penicillin) nicked her finger on a calf's tooth while teaching him to bucket-feed, and she came near to losing her hand, and her life. Blood poisoning that came close to gangrene.

As for the calf, never thought of coffee, but it might work. He might be able to use a bit of sugar, and if so you could give him sweet milk coffee (probably better than most people get). However, not too sweet, or it could induce scouring.

Let the farmer know about the worms (I assume you've dosed for them). If you tell him, then there's a chance less calves will die in future.

-- Don Armstrong (, December 18, 2001.

Thanks for all your answers, I will pick up some calf starter ration today. I will also try the coffee, sweetened with some sugar. Oh, about the wormer, I used the pour-on Ivermectin (for cattle). I was scared to try to worm him with any injectable or through the stomach method. In two weeks, can I then use another dose of pour on, or should i go ahead with the through the mouth dosing? He did have a lot of worms, after we used the pour on, we checked his droppings and found quite a few (lots really).

As far as the LA-200 - he's had two doses of 4.5 ccs. What's your thinking as far as giving another dose? I usually don't like to over medicate, but think that under medicating is just as bad. since I don't normally "do" cattle, what is the usual course of treatment. The bottle is very vague on dosage as it says no more than four doses prior to the 28 day slaughter and gives a lot of instruction concerning iv's and dilutions, etc. I think what may have happened before is the vet gave him a shot of antibiotic and he should have had a follow up shot and he didn't get it, so he relapsed.

If the little guy pulls through, I'll have a nice steer - I sure hope he makes it. The "free" calf has already cost us $60 - :>), so just goes to prove the old saying - there's no "free" lunch.

Right now we're treating the calf like you would an intensive care case. Bottle feeding him four times a day very small amounts, fussing over him constantly to get him to drink water, etc.

I think he may be depressed over the loss of his "herd" too, so when he gets stronger, I am moving him down to the goat pen where he will at least have a little company.

You guys are the nicest and thanks again for helping me out.

-- Cindy (, December 18, 2001.

Ross - can you explain the antibiotics question? I am used to giving daily doses of regular penicillian type drugs to horses when they are sick, but all the feedstore folks around here rave about the LA - 200. Is it really any better? I went to the phizer site and tried to read their literature (any scientists in the house???) All I could understand was that it would darn near treat any ailment a cow could possibly have that can be treated with an antibiotic (stuff I never heard of, like wooden tongue?). I guess what really threw me is that it doesn't need to be refrigerated like my regular antibiotics. So am using what was recommended by the hayfarmer, my cattle raising friend, and the feed store folks. Even so, it might not be the correct drug to use.


-- Cindy (, December 18, 2001.

Ok I'm no expert but LA200 is long acting tetracycline. I don't use it because I'm fussy about meds and don't want a stab and forget treatment. I also have sheep now and they really do need more care when sick than cattle. I do use Tetracyclione only in a low pain version. Liquamycin is the same thing, and is a broad spectrum antibiotic. My rule of thumb for drug use, dirty infections either get PenG or Borgal (Trivetrin is another name it's a sulfa drug) things like, foot rot, wounds, some wet coughs (subjectively-nice word for a guess) any retained placenta or if I pull a lamb dead or alive, all PenG mostly. PenG is for grammmmmmmmmmmm positive (?) strains of bacteria, Borgol is broadspectrum. Tetracycline I use on most respritory diseases but I have a nasty strain of pasturella that it deals with nicely. Shipping disease is a tetracyline treatmentas well. You can use Borgol/Trivetrin instead but I don't generally as it's a painfuil injection. I also use sulfamethazine for coccidia in oral forms and a sulfa based anti diareah med. There are a couple I don't use but keep in mind, Nuflor and Micotil. I haven't needed than so I don't use them. Won't even keep them around "in case" so long as the three main ones work I'm happy. I've also used Tylan for Ecoli, though I'm not a big fan of it really.

-- Ross (, December 18, 2001.

Ok my compendium has either grown tiny feet and escaped or my father has it to see if he can confound me with bizzare drugs we can't buy easily to treat things like snuffy noses. I will find it today for the doseages of LA200. Perhaps Vicki will mercifully spare you the wait and post it first!! Sure you can add suger to the coffee (I use beer making suger/dextrose) and other oral meds, like an expectorant, antihistamines, ASA, well the list is endless. Just pick something appropriate!

-- Ross (, December 18, 2001.

Calves need sunshine or they lack vitamin D. If you are keeping the calf in the barn away from the sun you might have to supplement some D or let it out for a while in the sun. We also gave our calves a shot of iron if they were bottle fed. As it is anemic it might do it some good.

-- Barb (, December 18, 2001.

Ross, you were doing fine! One caution, take the Micotil and throw it away now! It will kill goats, and can't see why the same wouldn't apply to your sheep. We are trying to get a label warning published. For your gram negatives, gram positives, bacteria, virus etc. explinations and what each drug you are using is for, just understand that it is goat dosages she is talking about, you can't find a better site than Even photos of the bottles, biohazard, and the recalls and warnings (like on Micotil). I on the otherhand am a fan of Tylan (tylosin). But then Ross is up in Canada, he milks sheep (and his wife makes the most beautiful soap), he also lists drugs when he talks that you can't get down here :) And vise-versa, he will be a huge asset to this list, he has a much nicer approach to things than I :)

Cindy, without knowing what the "shot" was and what "virus" the vet is taking about, we could all guess until the cows come home. Call him! A shot of anything is not going to help, so continue the "shot" the vet gives, or call your own vet with the information from the other vet. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, December 18, 2001.

What is this Compendium book and where is a good place to get one? Also, I want a Merck Vet manual, what is the latest edition? I am blown away by you folks' knowledge!

-- Debbie in Mo (, December 18, 2001.

A compendium is a book about 8x10 red cover oh say 500-700 pages a bit like a scrap book in that it has every lable and medicinal package info insert printed out alphabetically. I don't suppose you've seen my copy? Thought not, I'll keep looking. The Merck manual is a nice way to round out a herd/flock book library, but it wouldn't be my first choice or replaced often. I have a 7th edition, I think they may be up a ninth. I can recomend some sheep health care/managment books if you want; and I'd love to hear what books others like.

-- Ross (, December 18, 2001.

Wouldn't you know it LA200 isn't in my book. Liquamycin LA is and it's a very similar drug (if not identical) Your right the directions are vague, one shot wonder looks like to me, 5 days minimum? No wonder I hate long acting stuff! :^) Obviously I found my compendium, and where does a very big, very red book hide????......... you guessed it, right on the shelf. Now it should have been down one shelf with the other books and not all by it's self on the shelf above.

-- Ross (, December 18, 2001.

Merck's Vet Manual is a lot like a Taber's medical dictionary - the info is good for a couple printings, at least. Another thought I'll throw out is stock molasses in his grain, maybe the sweet taste will perk up his appetite, and some company wouldn't hurt at all. I'm also seconding finding out what tha h@!! the vet gave the poor critter. I'll be rooting for the little guy! (Yeah, I'm a sucker for a hard - luck case.)

-- Connie L (, December 24, 2001.

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