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5 month calf not thriving

 
Casey Lane
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Short story:
Calf had scours when I got her and seemed weak and I started giving her liquid minerals and Power Punch (a probiotic with a little molasses) down the throat twice a day. After a week she started looking better and seemed less weak. I stopped the supplements for about two days and she started scouring again, and did for several days until I started back on the supplements. She's still real skinny and kinda weak but the scours are gone and I don't believe she's dehydrated. Anything else I can do? Any thoughts on how long I should give the supplements?

More info:
She's a jersey and the original owner weaned her at three months and had her in a corral with hay and sweet feed. She was thin but not sickly looking when I bought her and moved her to my friends place where they had her on grass and supplemented with alfalfa and molasses. They kept her for two months, thought she was doing poorly and switched her to sweet feed and separated her out from their animals. That's when the scours started and lasted for two weeks. I brought her to my place finally after they had her for two months. I've offered her sweet feed, alfalfa pellets, corn, oats, alfalfa hay, peanut hay and coastal hay. She's on rye grass which she grazes for about half the day and sits for the other half. She will only eat the coastal hay and alfalfa pellets. Since the 2nd time scouring I've had to pick her back end up to get her standing up and then she walks out to the pasture or back to the barn. In the beginning she put herself up and brought herself out to the pasture. I tried to give her milk from a bottle but she won't have anything to do with it. I took a manure sample too a vet and they didn't think worms were a problem.

This is my first cow and I hoped for her to one day be our grass based family milk cow. My plan is to just keep giving her the supplements. I gave them initially because I was worried about electrolyte loss and I never saw her eating loose minerals or the block. I've seen her licking the mineral block lately.

Any thoughts?
 
Adam Klaus
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Casey Lane wrote:
This is my first cow and I hoped for her to one day be our grass based family milk cow.
Any thoughts?


I hate to say it, but sounds like a cull cow to me. Sounds like she was a cull cow when you bought her.

Grass based dairy cows have to be very solid in health and constitution to do well. This heiffer sounds like the polar opposite.

Sorry for your misfortune, but I would cut your losses, sell the heiffer, and start again with an animal that seems vigorously healthy to start. It may be hard to swallow now, but you will thank me later.
good luck!
 
R Scott
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I think Adam is right.

That said, most people screw up the first time. We did. Expensive lessons, but priceless learning.
 
C. Letellier
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Was the calf vaccinated for scours? If not start the proper antibiotic regimen would be my answer. Some calves do have failure to thrive problems but most it is simply a matter of treating the problem.
 
Casey Lane
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Cull. That sounds reasonable and something I would surely do with one of my birds. I guess this is my wannabe homesteader failure but we've certainly seen her as more pet than livestock (hate to say it). She certainly isn't costing anything to keep. She eats so little.

No vaccines that I know of. I'm at work today but wife says she's getting up and down on her own today.
 
Amanda Wheaton
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Are you offering her milk after she has already been weaned? Once a calf is weaned you aren't supposed to go back to milk later. It is possible the acid is off in her stomach. Or maybe she had coccidosis problems? I got my first ever Jersey heifer calf 2 years ago. She is 2 1/2 years old now She was 5 months old when I got her. She only ate a little bit and laid around all day. I gave her some grain but it was mostly hay. HOw much hay does she consume a day? i think mine ate 2 flakes at most at that age. Make sure she has clean water to drink and a nice dry clean place to sleep at night.
 
Casey Lane
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I did try to give her milk again and she would have nothing to do with it. I was really shocked by how little she eats. Maybe a few handfuls of hay a day and a measuring cup or so of alfalfa pellets. She grazes for several hours a day on rye and ryegrass that is coming up and is about 6". She does sit around a lot. This morning I gave her some of the power punch and made her stand up. She ate some pellets and 20 min or so later went out on her own to graze. She's gotta barn to sleep in and fresh water daily in the field. I'm almost out of the power punch and haven't found any more locally. I did find some probios (live probiotic cultures in a powder) and I added it to her pellets today.

Tonight I noticed some mucus in her eyes which had not been there previously. I think tomorrow I will try to take her temp. Never done that before.

If I gave her some antibiotics, what affect would that have on her rumen function?
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Amanda Wheaton
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If she was mine, i wouldn't give her anything. My cow has a little mucous here and there in her eyes, its normal. I would not give antibiodics as they will mess up the gut flora. By the way i am totally jealous of your green grass! We have over a foot of snow here lol! She looks nice in her picture. Just... relax I bet shes okay
 
Amanda Wheaton
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btw shes gorgeous!! i had to get my cow a calf to nurse on her and it was one of those ugly holsteins. Jerseys are by far the prettiest cow I look forward to getting my cow re-bred to a Jersey so i can have a Jersey calf around here again
 
Adam Klaus
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I would really get some professional advice. This calf does not sound good, and from the photo does not look good either. It seems like you dont know what to do, which is understandable, but that you are just trying random stuff hoping it will perform a miracle.

If you dont understand why you are doing something (i.e. giving milk, giving vitamins, giving antibiotics, giving grain), than how can you expect it to be helpful? I am not tring to be overly harsh, but this is a living creature you are experimenting with. See a vet, or at least consult with a knowledgable neighbor.

Internet advice and random experimentation is not a sound way to care for compromised animals. I wish you and your calf the best, good luck.
 
Amanda Wheaton
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Adam Klaus wrote:I would really get some professional advice. This calf does not sound good, and from the photo does not look good either. It seems like you dont know what to do, which is understandable, but that you are just trying random stuff hoping it will perform a miracle.

If you dont understand why you are doing something (i.e. giving milk, giving vitamins, giving antibiotics, giving grain), than how can you expect it to be helpful? I am not tring to be overly harsh, but this is a living creature you are experimenting with. See a vet, or at least consult with a knowledgable neighbor.

Internet advice and random experimentation is not a sound way to care for compromised animals. I wish you and your calf the best, good luck.


Where does she look off? I am just curious. She doesn't look much different than my calf as she was 2 years ago. However mine didn't have bowel issues but in looks, they looked the same. But I agree, dont just keep doing things. SOmetimes we can do too much and really screw things up. I used to go to the boards meant for KEeping a Family cow- exceedingly helpful people as I learned my calf. If her seasons just turned to Spring and grass is new for the calf, it could just be from eating the green grasses as her rumen adjusts. My cow is on all hay but if i ever let her out for grass she has the runs for a few days. Or again, she could have an underlying sickness. Its hard to say but she doesn't look bad in her picture in my opinion...
 
Casey Lane
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Well, Adam had me feeling guilty before I went to bed last night and I figured I would shell out the cash to bring out a vet. I don't know now though. When I went out this morning, she was already up and when I approached her with the idea of giving her the "power punch", she shot past me out of the barn. I also noticed she ate the sweet feed scoop that had been out for her for days.
 
Su Ba
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To me, the calf appears really thinly muscled, quite underweight, and unthrifty in the photo. If she makes it to when the spring grasses start to grow, perhaps she will perk up. Personally, I'd seek some professional suggestions. A bovine vet. A herdsman.
 
Amanda Wheaton
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I am going to wager she might have coccidosis issues
 
Adam Klaus
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Amanda Wheaton wrote:
Where does she look off? I am just curious. Its hard to say but she doesn't look bad in her picture in my opinion...


The biggest thing that jumps out at me in the photo is the way her hair is growing. It looks frizzy. Like the hairs themselves are very thin, and they are all sticking up unnaturally like she is being slightly electricuted. The hair patterns on cattle tell us a lot about their underlying endocrine and immune systems. We cant see inside the animal, but their hair tells us a lot about their internal condition.

Not a healthy animal, IMHO. You can surely limp her along, I dont think she's going to die or anything. But as a future family milk cow, this is a very poor choice. Things might turn out allright, but you are going to be investing another two years into this animal before you get a drop of milk. She might not be costing you much in care now, but over the course of the next 700 days, she sure will. The odds of her turning out to be a healthy and good quality milk cow are definitely stacked against her.

I really want to see homesteaders succeed with family milk cows. That is truly one of my passions in life right now. Starting out with a quality animal of good health is really imperative to your long term success with a milk cow. There are a lot of challenges in the best of circumstances. Stack the deck in your favor. Dont fail with a poor hand. Chances are that if things go poorly with your first milk cow, you will see all the expense and heartache and decide that milk cows just arent for you. This is really tragic, IMO.

Milk cows are absolutely one of the best things for a small homestead, you just have to do it right. Learn from your early mistake, and start with a healthy animal that will thrive for years to come.
 
Amanda Wheaton
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I understand now... that does make sense
 
Casey Lane
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UPDATE!
Finally decided to call a vet. The first week of the year. She decided to treat her with another dewormer (safeguard) and Albon (a sulfa drug for coccidia). She is like a new animal! She no longer sits in her own poop, jumps up anytime I approach her, runs and has a serious appetite now. I tried to put a rope halter on her today and she was actually bucking! We can't call her lazy daisy anymore. Vet says her growth is definitely stunted but she can certainly grow up to be a productive animal. We'll see.

Adam, I certainly agree with all the things you said, except I think us homesteaders are determined enough to realize when we made a mistake and not let it keep us from doing good things in the future. I'm still not sure my family is willing to make the milking commitment right now anyway, but one day we may buy a cow already in milk and keep daisy around to see how it goes.

Thanks for all the comments.
Casey
 
Amanda Wheaton
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Oooh that is wonderful! I had been thinking about her and hoping you would update. I had a goat once that had gotten cocci when little and she stayed stunted. I mean seriously stunted.. Its possible your girl will still be okay later on but she might stay small too and in that case you might just have a cuddle pet If I had a seriously stunted Jersey girl I would love her just for her manure and hay burps! Sure beats having a pony or something! Sometimes I get tired of milking the cow but at 800-900 lbs I sure cannot just have her be a hay burner for awhile :/ but if she was only 300-400 i sure could lol
 
Jeremey Weeks
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Total newbie talking here, but I've seen re-infection in other animals. (coccidia) This is something that chickens can get, and I think dogs and sheep as well. You might want to research this.

Maybe quarantine the area where your calf was?

Again, I'm no expert.
 
Bev Huth
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Ask around, there may be nutrients she is not getting (selinium would be my first guess) and she just needs a supplement to take off like a bad weed for you.

I know here livestock gets scrawny w/o it. so, ask around, see if there is something that works in your area that she needs to thrive.
 
Casey Lane
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Now thriving! But needs a better friend than these pigs!
http://youtu.be/372god8UYRs
 
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