getting a 9 month old calf to eat hay : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We have a calf that has been sick for some time. He has lost a lot of weight, but still acts alert and not that sick. He had hoof problems, which are now healing Ok. He was on antibiotics for a while and we think he may have lost his good "bugs" in his rumen, so we gave him trimec, and also yogurt, which may help that. But we can't get him to eat any hay. He will eat some ground corn, and some oat/corn mix, but not a lot. Does anyone know of a way to stimulate his appetite for hay? We have given vitamin B shots, which is supposed to stimulate appetite. Also, what would be best for his energy needs while we get him on feed again? Like I said, other than the weight loss he just doesn't seem that sick, but he isn't eating anything. We can't figure out where his energy is coming from. Any help would be appreciated.



-- Terri Warren (, February 04, 2001


I don't know if it will help or not, however, I have used a product called Pounds Plus on horses that were severely debilitated and needed some flesh on them ASAP. It has calories mainly from fat, but I believe also some from milk proteins, and some vitamins. I believe I used to buy it from Valley Vet Supply. They sent me a cattle cataloge a while back, and they had something called Vita Charge Paste for stressed cattle that contains Amaferm aspergillius that is supposed to help with rumen function and digestion. They also sell a soybean oil product called Liquid Gold for cattle, but I would be kind of hesitant to immediately load oil onto a system that was just recovering. Valley Vet's number is 800-468-0059, don't know if they're on line, but should be easy to find if they are. The order # on Vita Charge is 11556, costs $17.85.

Another thought is something done with horses that have lost their digestive flora due to illness or medication. You take fresh manure from a healthy animal and make a slurry, add more water, and let it settle out, straining off the liquid at the top through a cloth, and use this as an oral drench. The bacteria in the water transfers over to the ill one and colonizes. I don't know much about ruminants and how this would work, perhaps someone with cattle knowlege will comment on it for you. I hope this helps.

-- Julie Froelich (, February 05, 2001.

Read somewhere for this one option is to get the cud out of a cow's mouth and feed it to a calf. Know anyone with a friendly milk cow? You might try chopping the hay up into short lengths a couple of inches long and putting some molasses on it.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, February 05, 2001.

What has he been eating ?

-- Patty {NY State} (, February 05, 2001.

Hey Ken, could she give him a little liquid feed? That stimulates other cows to eat hay. You could probably make your own. Has lots of molasses in it and some protein source and fat. Black Strap is good stuff. Don't tell, but I love it.

-- Nan (, February 05, 2001.

The cud of another cow is the best way to re-innoculate him. If there is another friendly cow around, swab out it's mouth with a cloth, then swab the calf's mouth. There is supposed to be enough bacteria in the cows mouth at any given time to do the trick. That's how calves pick up the bacteria in the first place. As for eating, give the cleanest, best quality hay you can get ahold of, and chop and mix with the corn mix you're giving. He will get enough to spark his appetite for it.

-- melina b. (, February 05, 2001.

Sounds like the same thing I am battling in some of my sheep. Check his rear teeth. I suspect that some of my ewes have had digestive problems in the past and it has eroded their molars. They show no interest in hay because they can't chew it. Grain goes down because it is easily swalloved, but hay needs to be chewed a bit. Might try feeding him chopped hay. I'm still working on the situation with my ewes. The tooth thing is my latest guess.

-- Maggie's Farm (, February 06, 2001.

We have used liquid molasses to start calves on hay and also sprayed it on poorer quality grasses so cattle will graze the areas down. We also feed some hay cube to start calves that has molasses in it also, just watch the amount of molasses just enough for taste large amounts will make them loose. good luck

-- Steve (, February 08, 2001.

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