The sad side of raising farm animals


Mike with Hugo at 5 days old

Mike’s calf had a touch of scours ( calf diarrhea).  Nothing alarming or out of the ordinary for a 6 day old calf.  He seemed to be ok.  He was still bright eyed, playful and eating well.

He was a talkative calf, always mooing.  He seemed to be acting normally when I fed him in the morning. He jumped up and bellowed for his bottle when he  saw me walking into the barn yesterday.

My husband mentioned he was not quite as active for his afternoon bottle.  But he did perk up and drink.

I went out after dinner to look at him and he was very quiet.  I ran back in the house and mixed up a bottle of calf electrolytes.  

He refused to get up.  I picked him up, then he stood.  He wouldn’t drink his bottle.

I tried feeding with a syringe and he appeared to swallow some.

I knew it wasnt enough so I got the tube feeder. 

This similar to nursing equipment so, while I am new to cattle, I do feel comfortable tubing a calf. 


Calf tube feeder

You guide the tube into his stomach through his mouth, open the clamp, and feed directly into the stomach.

This must be done with extreme caution. Feed it accidently into the lungs instead if the stomach and you will drown the calf. We had 2 calves last year that required daily tubing for almost a week.

We have him a liter of fluids.  Seemed too brighten him up. For the 90 min that I spent in the barn with him, I didn’t see any diarrhea. I hoped we had turned the corner and he would be perky again soon.

But this morning I went to the barn to find that he didn’t make it through the night. 

Mike took it better then me.  He was a sweet calf and I had tried hard, but to no use, he still died.  I  cried.

Dairy calves are notoriously difficult to get through the first month of life.  Last year we had several close calls, but they all lived.


Mike with Hugo 3 days old

Hugo has already been replaced by a white Holstein calf .  We needed to quickly replace him if Mike was going to show at fair this year.

But there were tears shed for this sweet baby boy who only lived a week.


4 responses

  1. My heart breaks for you and your little calf. At least though, he was loved for his brief time on this Earth. This makes me want to cry myself. Poor little baby. 😦

  2. I’m so sorry… 😦

    One trick the farmers here in Ohio suggested to me, and it gets repeated every year by many old-timers, and has always worked (worth a try if you have access to fresh eggs): mix in two eggs per bottle of milk — every time. Then start weaning them off bottles at one month. I’ve never had a problem with dehydrated calves and they love the custard flavor of their milk. They still have scours (ew!!), but the eggs must have enough nutrition in them to prevent the dehydration. I’ve never used medicated formula, though I considered it this year. Ended up just using eggs. Have you ever tried medicated formula?

    • Last year we added medicaton to our milk replacer, but with the new rules about medications, it is harder to find. I love your idea of eggs mixed in, I will talk to my husband about it.

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