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6mccabes February 28th, 2011 19:16

calf died suddenly
We are just learning about bottle calves. My son started out with a bottle calf for his ffa project in May 2010. His calf was 2 weeks old when we got him. We then bought 3 more one for each of our other children. There was one that we had to feed through atube for awhile then it took off eating on its own and as part pig.He was doing fine was about 5 to 6 months old. He was eating grain. We let him out of the barn yesterday morning, he walked to the corral to eat grain and hay. An hour later our son went to do barn chores and the calf was on the ground with his legs drawn under him and mouning. whithin the hour he died. Any ideas why and should I worry about the other calf he is 10 months old. The other 2 died but someone told us to wean them to early. I feel terrible this was a pet and I am concerned for my sons other calf for school.

BecM February 28th, 2011 21:37

My first suggestion is to find a local cattle farmer who doesn't mind coming and giving you a bit of help and advice on rearing calves. It isn't as easy as it looks and you cant go wrong getting some assistance from a veteran.

What kind of grain are you feeding and are you giving them as much as they want? Too much grain can cause acidosis and bloat; the stomach blows up very round and hard and puts pressure on the diaphragm making it hard for the animal to breathe. In young stock this very often leads to death, but I have seen it in greedy adult cattle too. From your description, it sounds like that is the problem. Make sure you provide your calves with plenty of hay and fresh water, and keep the grain to a small amount per feed say .5kg (about 1 lb) two or three times per day so they cant gorge. You can provide ad lib grain to calves before they are weaned as it encourages the weaning process, but once that is all they are getting along with hay, you have to be careful to limit the quantity they have access to.

If you are concerned that one of you animals has had too much grain, dilute about 150- 200 g of bicarbonate of soda in water and tube them with it (you can just use an old wine bottle or the like; tilt their head up slightly and insert the bottle through the side of their mouth where they dont have any teeth and slowly pour it in, making sure they dont inhale any).

I really hope that helps; dont hesitate to put any other queries up on here, but the best advice I can give is to find yourself a pet farmer to help you out until you get the hang of it!

6mccabes March 3rd, 2011 15:04

Thank yo for the advise. We got are calves from a distant family member who runs a dairy farm. So bloating can be treated if you notice it in time correct? I've had nightmares since we lost the last calf that we would lose this one. We started giving him medicine and cut his grain intake down. Pour calf< I don't know if he knows what he is. The kids lead him around like the pupps he moos at the horses and eats like a "pig" he is so spoiled. I think he'd come in the house if I'd let him. He has been mooing alot since we lost the last calf do you think he's lonely. If so would he be better off for us to get another calf to keep him company?

BecM March 5th, 2011 03:48

No worries. Yeah, a good dose of bicarb will usually fix them up, but prevention is better than cure! Keep up the roughage and keep the grain down to a set ration (which you can slowly increase as they get older if they are going to be milkers or beef...if they are just pets, I wouldn't even worry about feeding grain at all to be honest, but a little as a treat is OK). I have a small 5 acre farm where I keep some livestock in addition to my dairy work and have found that cows on small blocks can turn in to a real pest as they no longer respect you and wont do as they are told. They also start to develop nasty habits like escaping their paddocks and coming to investigate the house and vegie garden. Believe it or not I actaully saw my partner chase a half grown bull around the kitchen table once when curiousity got the better of him and he crossed the final fronteir!So I would get him another calf for company; even sheep will do the trick. And try not to spoil them too much because they will weigh 500kg one day and their antics wont be so cute then!

Good luck.

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