I gotta sick calf, can someone help?

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I have a calf that won't eat. He is three weeks old, and until this am he had been fine. Last night he ate well, and othere than not wanting to go in the barn for the night (not unusual) he seemed fine.

I took his temp it was 100. Is this normal? He seems to be chewing-which I have observed as normal, but he seems off to me. (yeah I know that is hardly technical.) Not interested in his bottle or pellets, or even sucking on fingers.

What do I look for? Any clue as to what this might be-I figured scours, but there is no poop...atleast no signs of it. Nothing in the barn, nothing on his tail or backside.

the other one we have in comparison is his normal self-hungry, and frisky, he ate well and seems completely normal.

Not sure whether ot would matter or not but they are jerseys. We started them after colostrum n the farm we got them, on gaots milk and switched over to the powdered replacer. The switch was over a week ago and we have had no trouble. The weather got cool ten days ago, warmed up well and then we had rain sunday night and yesterday-today it is drizzly foggy and cool. It is supposed to warm up again-mid 70's. I understand that weather changes can be a stress on young calves. ALso our othr healthy calf is ten days older.

any help I would appreciate.


-- Sarah (heartsongacres@juno.com), October 17, 2000


I can sympathize with your problem Sarah--I started raising holstein calves with a friend 15 years ago--we picked them up at the local dairies as day olds--also would get sale calves on occasion. WE got pretty good at keeping them alive and growing, knew what to look for at the first sign of a problem and treated accordingly. Then we found a source for jersey calves--and they were a whole lot cheaper. But we could never really get a handle on what to do to make them stay healthy. Lost many of them over the course of the year we tried to make a go with them--and most of the time it was a situation just like you are describing here--they would be fine one day--off their feed the next and down the third day. We did find that keeping them confined in a barn without any drafts, and feeding them whole cow milk for the first two months helped a lot. Since then, I have had a couple jersey nurse cows, and the calves have been really healthy I think because I keep them with the mom during the day, seperate them at night so I can have a bit of milk for the family in the morning. This way I can raise three calves on one cow, at a time. I sure hope that someone has a suggestion for you--I would be interested in knowing just what else might be done as well. Hope everything turns out ok!

-- Lynn Royal (homesteadmama@aol.com), October 17, 2000.

Hi just an update...he doesn't appear to have scours-he pooped and it is well formed. Tried to give him a little water with molasses in it- he was not interested-I forced the nipple in his mouth-got a little in him.

He does not have a fever-one eye is a tad weepy (slight discharge inside corner) and he is alert as usual. Just not willing to eat.

I spoke with someone who thinks that it would be a good idea if he won't eat tonght to tube feed him. We will have some experienced help. Nost sure if we should give him his usual milk replacer or just fluids.

any help apprecited.


-- sarah (heartsongacres@juno.com), October 17, 2000.

He might just have an upset stomach. Slippery elm is very soothing on their tummies, you can get it in a powdered form from a health food place, mix it in water (gets very thick quickly) and give it in a bottle. Or, you could try plain yogurt. Since he wont take a bottle you can mix the slippery elm with a bit of water until you get a thick paste and shove it down his throat. This has worked with excellent results on my calves that go off the bottle.

-- Julie (julieamc@excite.com), October 17, 2000.

Sarah, the chewing you describe would make me wonder if maybe he didn't try to eat something that wouldn't go down....piece of twine or something. You might feel of his throat....sometimes you can feel obstructions there. With the weather you are describing I wouldn't rule out a respiratory ailment which jerseys seem horribly succeptible to. I would separate the 2 calves immediately. If he is uninterested in a bottle at 3 consecutive feedings I'm afraid he is probably not going to make it. I got a calf one time that quit eating....no other symptoms and a couple of days later had a bit of a cough. I injected medication (which says a lot since I am terrified of needles), kept him warm, fussed over him and he still died. I wish you luck but they seem to be a delicate breed and if they have problems before they are about 3 months old I have yet to see one recover.

-- Amanda (aseley@townsqr.com), October 18, 2000.

My calve experience with scours is slow, or not interested in sucking there bottle about 12 to 24 hrs before things start to happen in the rear. I begin medication at first sign of loss of interest in eating. Usually once the begin to have loose bowl movement they begin to eat again. Have not lost a calf to scours in 13 yrs. Raised hundreds of calves. Don

-- Don (dairyagri@yahoo.com), October 18, 2000.

Well he is better! Last night he took a bottle that had electrolytes etc in it, andhe really perked up. And this am he was his normal obnoxious self :) It was such a releif to see that tail wagging as he took the bottle. We gave him something called Calf Care by McNess. tongight we will give himhis milk again and hopefully he will do well.

we met with the dairyman we got him from-he also suggested that maybe he had something stuck in hi throat-we couldn't tell. One this myhusband noticed first is that when he would chew there was a bad smell. It was like he belched (no audible) and a smell while he was chewing. i even checked after my husband pointed it out and there was nothinginhis mouth. Is that a clue to anything? So far no chewing this am-but we will watch him closely.

We also wondered about poisonous plants-but as far as we know there is nothing.

So hopefull the crisis is passed-and we will be watching the other calf closely for symptoms too. He is older so maybe not as vulnerable?

Thanks for the help!


-- Sarah (heartsongacres@juno.com), October 18, 2000.

Sarah-- That is great news that he is better!! One thing with any calf you raise--the older they get to, the more chance you have of them making it to cowhood--at least in my experience! Hope they do well for you from here on out--Lynn

-- Lynn Royal (homesteadmama@aol.com), October 19, 2000.

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