calf not thriving

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4 years 9 months ago #535428 by Revill25
calf not thriving was created by Revill25
Hi all. We have a 7 - 8 week old bobby calf who isnt thriving. When we first got him and a friend, he was feeding well but a couple of weeks ago was looking very poorly and not drinking well. We called the vet, who came out 3 times over the weekend ( still havent had that bill yet) who said he had pneumonia and temperature. Give 3 injections, pain killers and antibiotics, we continued the antibiotics for 4 more days and seemed to come round. Since then he hasnt fed well and this morning only drank 1.5l of milk, although I did see him at the water trough later. Tonight I had to force him to drink 2l of milk. He is very skinny and weak. No scours but did have for 1 day a few days ago. Shall I get the vet again or has anyone got any advice for us.

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4 years 9 months ago #535435 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic calf not thriving
Talk to the vet about feeding electrolytes for a day.
When they are sick, little feeds more often is usually better than fewer big feeds.
He should be eating a lot of grass by now, so might be infested with gastro-intestinal worms that have not yet done enough damage to affect the poo consistency, so an oral drench may be worthwhile.

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4 years 9 months ago #535465 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic calf not thriving
Is he cool/cold in the mouth?

Has he had adlib access to calf meal? 20% protein. I'm using Seals Winslow this year and they love it!

I would give the vet a call, he will remember your calf and can tick off any other ideas. I'm guessing you are keeping both calves in a draught free environment on dry bedding?

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4 years 9 months ago - 4 years 9 months ago #535473 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic calf not thriving
It's always a risk taking on bobbys. Usually they will be fine, but calves destined for the bobby truck are often not given the initial care and attention by the farmer that they should be, because financially they are not worth the effort.

It seems to me like your calf might have had a poor start - possibly too little colostrum to start off with. Colostrum is vital in the first few hours of life to provide antibodies to combat disease, along with plenty of fats and proteins for energy and maintenance of body warmth. Feeding colostrum for at least the first four days gives a calf a really good start.

I would confine your calf (with its mate for company) in a warm shed or barn for a while - ventilated, but no draughts - and with clean untreated pine shavings for bedding. Check its temperature. If it's below 38 deg C he's becoming hypothermic and needs warmth.

If you are feeding CMR, you'll probably be mixing 125 grams per litre of water. For a calf the age of yours, you can slowly increase the concentration (over a few days) up to 250 grams per litre. Give him 2 litres early morning. That will boost the energy intake while still leaving the calf feeling hungry, encouraging him to get stuck into hard feed. Then another 2 litres last thing in the evening. Offer 20% protein calf pellets for him to eat during the day. Seals Winslow, as Max2 suggested, are great. So are NRM Growup 20. Another really good product is Fibregain, by Fibre Fresh Products - excellent for getting the digestive tract healthy and contains plenty of energy. You could also put a hay rack in there with him.

Make sure he has access to clean water in the pen.

Good luck - keep us posted on progress.

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!
Last edit: 4 years 9 months ago by Rokker.

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4 years 9 months ago #535476 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic calf not thriving
Just to touch on and expand on ''names'' of young calves. Bare with me please, its a personal grievance of mine!

When I started buying in at the sales yards a few years ago I always referred to the 4 day old calves as bobbies.... that is what the stock agents called them, what the term was on the sales on line list and how I learnt to call them. I had no idea that 4 day old calves were also known otherwise..

Fast forward a couple of years and when referring to buying bobby calves on a dairy forum, imagine my upset at being told I had no idea what a bobby calf was! 4 day old calves can and are also known as feeder calves. The ''bobby' name refers to them not being needed on the farm and put out for the bobby calf truck. In whatever direction it may take... it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with them, just not required by the farm for replacements or for the family freezer.

So at our sales calves are graded on appearance of breed as they turn up (for the want of a better term). I have seen calves from the same farm and sire either sent to the dairy row, meat x row or up the back to the ''dog tucker row'' based on their appearance alone.

One of my major frustrations with the sales yards is there is no pen for good stock from a reliable and confirmed farm who feed them the appropriate amount of colostrum, care for them for at least 4 days before sending them out. The division at the yards is all based on what they ''appear'' to be.

This year having bought solely from one farm and privately, I have a good collection of black white face (top pen stuff), a collection of broken face, the odd red spottie and some BWF whose markings lean more to the maternal side of the gene pool. But the sire has been the same! I pay the same $$ on each but its been an interesting learning curve not to trust what is presented as what at the yards....

Hope this long yarn helps with the term bobby.

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4 years 9 months ago - 4 years 9 months ago #535479 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic calf not thriving
I hear ya, max2. It can be a bit frustrating how pedantic buyers can be over appearance and markings. For instance, a Hereford Whiteface fetches much more money if it's black, rather than red, and has four white socks, white tip of tail, and white head and face evenly marked, and the rest of the body black with no additional white patches. Like it affects the meat!

The argument is, of course, that the more the Whiteface markings align with the "ideal" then the more Hereford (and hence beefiness) is in its genetics. Other markings betray its Friesian content and make it less desirable as a beef animal. And red hides are not as desirable by manufacturers as black hides.

Sorry Revill25 for our little diversion from the topic. When I was a kid I thought that a bobby calf was any "boy" calf! When I asked what a girl calf was called, they just laughed, thinking I was just being funny, and I never got an answer to what was actually a serious question! I eventually figured it out when unwanted calves were referred to as being bobbied.

max2 wrote: . . . I always referred to the 4 day old calves as bobbies.... that is what the stock agents called them, what the term was on the sales on line list . ..

Just shows how onto it some stock agents are!!! Who on earth would send bobby calves, worth about $30 on a good day, to a sale yard!?

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!
Last edit: 4 years 9 months ago by Rokker.
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4 years 9 months ago #535480 by Sue
Replied by Sue on topic calf not thriving
Something that no one has mentioned re 'Bobby' calves is that the term originated from when the surplus unwanted calves on a dairy farm were only worth a 'bob' which to the younger folks was slang for a shilling in old money!
Sorry to have digressed from your original post, I hope you get your calf fixed, yes another vet call could be in order.

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.
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4 years 9 months ago #535481 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic calf not thriving
We, as in "The Manager" phones up the previous owner to find out exactly what the calf is, how old it is, what vaccinations the mother had, how long it has been on colostrum, and anything else that she can persuade the previous owner to impart. We once bought a Hereford X Fresian that the owner assured us was Hereford. It looked like Hereford, but it was Jersey :-(. Also a Limosin bull calf .... half Jersey::(.

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4 years 9 months ago #535482 by tonic
Replied by tonic on topic calf not thriving

max2 wrote: This year having bought solely from one farm and privately, I have a good collection of black white face (top pen stuff), a collection of broken face, the odd red spottie and some BWF whose markings lean more to the maternal side of the gene pool. But the sire has been the same!


The sire is only providing half the genetics, so the calves should be quite different from each other depending on the dam. Also, it must be a very small dairy farm to only be using one follow up bull, most would have half a dozen at least rotating through the heard in groups of 3 or so. Many of the farms I know aren't strict with having purebred beef sires either, as long as it looks right it is used, so the calves are sometimes not fully half beef. That is where choosing the ones with the good markings can help, at least you have a better chance of getting a calf that had a pure hereford sire than if you choose a less well marked one.
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4 years 9 months ago #535493 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic calf not thriving
I actually haven't asked about bull numbers which is important that I do, however ''he'' is most def. purebreed hereford put over fresian girls..... :)

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4 years 9 months ago #535494 by max2
Replied by max2 on topic calf not thriving
And yes apologies to Revill25 that I took the conversation off an another tangent re the naming of Bobby calves.

How is the calf doing today and did you call the vets back?

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4 years 9 months ago #535520 by Revill25
Replied by Revill25 on topic calf not thriving
Hi all. Thanks for all your advise. Calf still not interested in milk. Managing to get 1.5 to 2l into him twice a day but he needs more calories. Hes all skin and bone. Havent rung the vet again yet, been trying your ideas. Kept him in barn with cosy bedding,hay and fresh water. Doesnt have temperature and is alert, just not hungry. Tried him with calf moozlie meal but not keen on that either. Will try increasing the amount of cmr we giving him. Wasnt sure if I could do that because of kidneys processing it but need to do something. I put him back in paddock with his mate this morning and hes grazing now. The sun is shining and thats got to help too. When we got him, they both had had colostrum and came with 10 litres of cows milk to help change to powder. We mixed it half and half for 2 days before they were on full powder mix. No problems then. He was a good feeder until he got sick.Will keep you posted.
Hazel

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4 years 9 months ago #535523 by tonic
Replied by tonic on topic calf not thriving
I would still ring the vet for a chat, just to let them know what is happening in case there is something else they think of that may be the cause and can be fixed rather than waiting to see what happens.

Good luck!
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4 years 9 months ago #535528 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic calf not thriving
I'd agree. Another chat with the vet wouldn't go amiss.

Calves that won't drink can be very frustrating, especially if they look skin and bone as you say yours is. It's not uncommon -
we get a few like that every year, and sometimes it's very difficult to pinpoint a reason. But so long as you keep that 1.5 to 2 litre feed going morning and night, and watch for any signs of dehydration, they usually come right.

A couple more suggestions. . . .

Some calves that have a poor sucking reflex, or seem to be confused about drinking from a teat, can often drink better from a bucket. If your calf drinks water ok, you can try feeding the milk the same way. Pour the milk into a small trough hung from a gate or side of the pen, then keep him away from the water trough until the milk is gone.

Given his age, condition, and diet up to now, talk to your vet about a B12 jab. If his diet has been low in cobalt, then a B12 injection can have remarkably dramatic results with increased appetite and weight gain. Your vet will be able to advise if this might apply in your case.

And just to set your mind at ease, increasing the concentration of CMR to that level won't damage his kidneys. It has a twofold effect - besides increasing the protein available for an underweight animal, it slows down the passage through the gut, enabling a greater extraction of nutrients, and reduces the tendency to scour as more water is absorbed. Fortifying collection milk from the vat with CMR is common practise, encouraging excellent weight gain and early rumen development.

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!
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4 years 9 months ago #535722 by Revill25
Replied by Revill25 on topic calf not thriving
Hi all, just an update on calf.
I called the vet again and she supplied B12 injection, anti inflammatory injection and oral selenium. We had to tube feed him over the weekend but seemed to pick up again on Monday. By Thursday he was back up to drinking 2.5L CMR twice a day and I thought we were home.
He now has started to drop off again, only drinking about 2L, if that, twice a day. ( 3 days later)
Not too sure what else we can do. He just doesn't seem hungry, compared to his friend who is very robust ( same age)
He is on 300g per 2L slightly more than recommended 250g. Vet wasn't keen on increased powder intake.
Its turning into a very expensive calf :-(

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