bottle calves for newbies

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petra hoffman
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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby petra hoffman » Sun Aug 14, 2016 6:26 am

akburk2 wrote:
milkmaid wrote:It seems as if everyone and their dog has bottle calves nowdays, and no idea how to care for them. So, I figure it’s about time to put together a post with some basic calf-raising information.

The cow’s colostrum contains important antibodies that will protect the calf from disease for the first few months of life, and so it is vital that the calf get colostrum within the first 24 hours of life. Between 0 and 24 hours the bovine gut is “open” and will absorb those antibodies. After 24 hours of life it is almost pointless to give colostrum and if the calf has not gotten colostrum yet, chances are high that keeping the calf alive will be an uphill battle for the first few months of life. Ideally the calf would get 1/2 gallon of colostrum within 2 hours after birth, and then 1/2 gallon 12 hours later.

Feeding a bottle calf for the first few times… I’ve seen people try to stand in front of the calf and simply hold the bottle out. Note that feeding a calf is not like coaxing a puppy over for a treat. The calf has no idea what the bottle is, and your job is to show him. Back the calf into a corner and either stand to the side as shown, or straddle him and stuff the bottle in his mouth. Notice the hand below the calf’s jaw to support her head.
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Look for a milk replacer designed for calves that is at least 20% protein and 20% fat, and made from real milk. Some replacers are made from soy milk and are inadequate for raising a calf.

Opinions differ on whether a bottle calf must be raised on a BOTTLE or if they can be given their milk in a bucket. Some studies have shown that the action of nursing causes the milk to be sent directly to the abomasum where the milk is best digested, whereas simply drinking from a bucket results in the milk going to the (currently undeveloped) rumen. Because of this, some people choose to bottle feed calves from birth to weaning. It is worth noting, however, that dairies bucket feed all calves, and it is done with no ill effects to the calf. In fact, most dairy heifers are big enough to breed as 12-14 month olds so bucket feeding evidently didn’t stunt their growth.

Grain is essential for raising bottle calves, and they need to stay on grain until they’re at least 400-500lbs and their rumen is big enough it can hold enough grass/hay to provide them with enough nutrition for growth. If bottle calves are not properly fed they will look “potbellied” and will be smaller than they should be for their age. A bottle calf really needs 2-2.5% of their body weight in grain that is at least 14-16% protein on a daily basis. Check the labels at your local feed store and try to find a specific “calf starter” for the first few months of the calf’s life.

Potbellied calves:
severe case...
Image

mild case... she's in good condition, but slightly potbellied
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The calf needs to be eating at least 2% of their body weight in grain before they can be weaned – otherwise they will not be getting adequate nutrition from their feed and will become stunted and potbellied.

Opinions also differ on when to feed hay to bottle calves. Some don’t introduce hay until after weaning so that the calf will learn to eat grain, since that is what will provide the most nutritionally for the calf. Others introduce hay right away to help develop the rumen (stemmy hay is ideal for kick-starting the rumen)… IMO it is simply a matter of preference as I’ve seen it done successfully both ways.

“Scours” is the cattleman’s term for diarrhea.
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It can be caused by anything from too much milk, to bacteria (ie. ecoli), to viruses (ie. rotavirus) to protozoa (ie crypto). Regardless of what caused it, the most important thing in a scours case is supportive therapy (fluids, electrolytes, etc.). Almost any antibiotic labeled for cattle is acceptable for treating scours. Preferred antibiotics are oxytetracycline 200, Spectam, sulfas (Sustain III or SMZs), terramycin, and occasionally penicillin, Baytril, Excenel… the only one I wouldn’t recommend is Nuflor, since diarrhea is a side effect of using Nuflor, and is not a good idea for a calf that’s already scouring. (Also note that while gentamicin is often effective against scours, it is also not legal for cattle use and it has an 18-24 month slaughter withdrawal. Don't use it!)

Dehydrated calf… note sunken-in eyes
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Note that dehydration doesn’t become evident until the animal has lost about 6% of their body weight in fluids, and kidney failure sets in around 11-12% loss. The calf above is severely dehydrated and needs to be on IV fluids. (For that matter, any scouring, recumbent –down – calf needs to be on IV fluids.)

Fluids can be given IV, SC, or orally (the preferred method unless the calf is down and cannot get up, then one really needs to run an IV). Note that if giving fluids IV or SC, you need to get saline solution or lactated ringers from your vet – don’t try plain water! Hopefully that’s a no-brainer but I feel obligated to mention it.

IVs are easiest if the calf is placed on its side (not too hard on a recumbent calf), the area is shaved and then doused with a good dose of rubbing alcohol -- it makes the vein stand up and it's much easier to see and hit with the needle, especially on a dehydrated animal. Sometimes it's easier to find the vein if you have a syringe attached to the needle and a couple cc's of dex or a similar relatively-harmless substance in the syringe so you can pull back. Make sure your saline solution/lactated ringers are at body temperature.

Electrolytes are very important as the calf loses a LOT of them when scouring. Anything that has dextrose, sodium chloride (salt), and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can be used. It is possible to make homemade electrolytes, but is not ideal… especially sugar or corn syrup is not easily digested in the calf and can cause more scouring. Spend the money and buy the real stuff at your feed store or vet clinic that is actually designed for calves.

I did discover something new recently; an oral solution called “Double A solution” (my vet says it can also be given IV) and contains electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. I feel it’s equivalent or better than the powder stuff the feed stores carry and I've been pleased with the results I've seen after giving it to calves.

Calf's normal rectal temperature is 102.5'F. Navel ill/joint ill... I'll add that info soon.

Vaccinations... common question. Opinions differ on this one too. Maternal antibodies from the colostrum interfere with attempts to vaccinate the calf, and its own immune system isn't in top working order yet. Generally accepted opinion is to wait until 2-3 months before vaccinating. Much sooner than that and you're really just wasting your money. Won't hurt the calf, but probably won't do a bit of good either!

Common things to vaccinate against are:

Viral diseases:
BVD types I and II, IBR, BRSV, PI3

Lepto:
5 strains including hardjo

Clostridial:
7 or 8-way clostridial including blackleg

...and depending on location, often pinkeye, tetanus, and/or redwater too. Some people also vaccinate for pneumonia (pasturella, etc), footrot, neospora, scours (in calves), but those are less common vaccines. Consult with your vet about what might be needed in your area.

Brucellosis (bangs) is required in some states (heifers only!) -- check with your vet.

Remember to booster all vaccines as recommended on the label!!!

That's all for tonight... experts feel free to add to what I've already said... and I'll work on it more later.



I first want to say that you have created a really nice post. I would like to talk a little about the remarks made about colostrum in the opening paragraphs. It is true that colostrum contains antibodies that will support the newborn's immune system for the first 90-120 days of life. It is true that after a certain period of time once the "gut" is no longer open IgG (the anti-body that is the protein carrier) can no longer be absorbed, however all of the other antibodies can still be absorbed, espically IgA. IgA is absorbed through the mucosal membranes of the respiratory and G.I. tract. and is found in blood, sweat, and tears. IgA contains lactoferrin and transferrin which work together to help the immune system become established. IgG is carried in the lymphatic and circulatory systems where it helps to neutralize toxins and other unwanted invaders, but like you said the absorption is only good for the first few hours of life. I agree that if a calf doesn't recieve colostrum within the first 6 hours of birth the battle has started, because his strength(IgG ... protein) levels are way behind. I disagree that colstrum is an unusable product after the first few hours of birth because of all the other benefits that it has to offer.... immunity boost, growth factors, feed efficiency factors.. etc. What you have to realize is that the powdered products have been denatured because the have been taken out of their original state (liquid) and made into a powdered product... not as powerful.Tragus

I have been hearing talks about a product called Re-Borne that is being used within the horse industry right now. There are talks that it could move into the cattle, swine, and possibly poultry industries. It is colostrum that has been sourced from USDA certified dairies and went through a special sterilization process and the product has never been altered from the original state. So it is 100% colostrum... the real deal. It has many uses not just for newborns, but backgrounders, farrowing houses etc. I believe that it might be a great product that we will need to keep our eyes and ears open on. I will try to do some more research on this product and see what happens. If you get time check out their website...www.Re-Borne-Equine.com.



That's really awesome. thanks

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Bar E » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:50 pm

dun wrote:
Dixieangus wrote:How many times a day do you have to give the calves the bottle and at what time...what age do you start them on calf starter...


Twice a day pretty clsoe to 12 hours apart. Started on starter as soon as they will eat it.



How much do you give per feeding? Calf is a week old at most. Been giving three feedings a day since I bought her Saturday. I've been giving about 1/2 gallon per feeding.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby M-5 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:55 pm

Bar E wrote:
dun wrote:
Dixieangus wrote:How many times a day do you have to give the calves the bottle and at what time...what age do you start them on calf starter...


Twice a day pretty clsoe to 12 hours apart. Started on starter as soon as they will eat it.



How much do you give per feeding? Calf is a week old at most. Been giving three feedings a day since I bought her Saturday. I've been giving about 1/2 gallon per feeding.

Follow instructions on the replacer.
"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." JFK

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Bar E » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:13 pm

M-5 wrote:
Bar E wrote:
dun wrote:
Twice a day pretty clsoe to 12 hours apart. Started on starter as soon as they will eat it.



How much do you give per feeding? Calf is a week old at most. Been giving three feedings a day since I bought her Saturday. I've been giving about 1/2 gallon per feeding.

Follow instructions on the replacer.



I did that lol. She still seems hungry. Today my wife gave a quart or so of water too after the replacer.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby M-5 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 7:54 am

You want to keep them a little hungry . follow directions and increase like they recommend.
"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." JFK

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Bar E » Tue Feb 07, 2017 8:25 am

Thank you M5

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Bar E » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:45 pm

So I've been bottle feeding for a week now and have yet too see her with solid poop. It's all been runny and diarrhea. It's not scours, so I don't think a bolus would help. Any suggestions?

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Son of Butch » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:11 pm

2 feedings a day is standard for bottle feeding calves, but 3 times is better if you have the time.
One thing I'll add about bottle feeding calves... cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby TCRanch » Sun Feb 12, 2017 7:16 pm

Son of Butch wrote:2 feedings a day is standard for bottle feeding calves, but 3 times is better if you have the time.
One thing I'll add about bottle feeding calves... cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness.


Bears repeating!
I use Dawn dish washing detergent - the original blue. When you clean the bottle, don't forget to scrub the inside of the nipple.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Bar E » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:05 pm

TCRanch wrote:
Son of Butch wrote:2 feedings a day is standard for bottle feeding calves, but 3 times is better if you have the time.
One thing I'll add about bottle feeding calves... cleanliness, cleanliness, cleanliness.


Bears repeating!
I use Dawn dish washing detergent - the original blue. When you clean the bottle, don't forget to scrub the inside of the nipple.



After each use?

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby farmerjan » Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:31 pm

If it is runny and diarrhea like, then it is scours. Scours is another term for diarrhea. It can be caused by different things, nutritional, virus, bacterial; so there is something causing it. The CLEANLINESS factor is #1 and yes, the bottle and nipple should be washed out after EVERY FEEDING, especially if she is still scouring. I would definitely try a couple of feedings of electrolytes instead of the milk, and use something that has a thickening agent in it. It will make it more gelled in her stomach, slow down the passage so that she doesn't dehydrate. I would also give her a couple of scour boluses at this point since there is an underlying reason she is scouring. Did you buy her through the stockyards? If so, there is a very good chance that she has picked up some bacteria or virus there. She needs to be treated before she gets weak and dehydrated.

What kind of milk replacer are you using? It NEEDS to be ALL MILK, milk replacer. NOT SOY BASED. It should be a 20/20 protein/fat using all milk because the soy based ones will almost always cause them to be runny and they cannot utilize the soy protein and will do poorly if they do not actually starve to death on it.

Many dairies are feeding their calves 3x a day if they can, and if not, have upped the milk replacer to 6 qts a feeding instead of the usual 4 qts twice a day. But you have got to treat the problem of scours.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Bar E » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:30 am

farmerjan wrote:If it is runny and diarrhea like, then it is scours. Scours is another term for diarrhea. It can be caused by different things, nutritional, virus, bacterial; so there is something causing it. The CLEANLINESS factor is #1 and yes, the bottle and nipple should be washed out after EVERY FEEDING, especially if she is still scouring. I would definitely try a couple of feedings of electrolytes instead of the milk, and use something that has a thickening agent in it. It will make it more gelled in her stomach, slow down the passage so that she doesn't dehydrate. I would also give her a couple of scour boluses at this point since there is an underlying reason she is scouring. Did you buy her through the stockyards? If so, there is a very good chance that she has picked up some bacteria or virus there. She needs to be treated before she gets weak and dehydrated.

What kind of milk replacer are you using? It NEEDS to be ALL MILK, milk replacer. NOT SOY BASED. It should be a 20/20 protein/fat using all milk because the soy based ones will almost always cause them to be runny and they cannot utilize the soy protein and will do poorly if they do not actually starve to death on it.

Many dairies are feeding their calves 3x a day if they can, and if not, have upped the milk replacer to 6 qts a feeding instead of the usual 4 qts twice a day. But you have got to treat the problem of scours.



It's not really the color of scours, scours is a yellowish color no? This is dark dark brown.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby farmerjan » Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:43 am

No scours doesn't have to be yellow. And if it is dark brown you may very well be dealing with a rota virus or a corona virus. I think it is the rota virus that causes it to be a dark brown and if you do not get it under control you will lose the calf or it will always be a "poor doer". I think you have a more serious problem than you think. Either get some vet advice, or at least get someone close that has cattle to at least look at it and give you their opinion. Most of the rota and corona viruses will show up in 3-10 days after birth or exposure and most will be dead in 2 weeks. Scours IS DIARRHEA period. The causative agent will determine what the color is and the consistancey. The calf needs some intervention before it dehydrates and you lose it.
You can easily look it up on the internet. Type in calf scours and see; there are several websites to study it. Runny, manure for several days or a week is NOT NORMAL.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby CanChaser17 » Thu Apr 06, 2017 3:56 pm

I have a pretty good question as well, my 2 week old calf is a big fan of eating dirt and he just started doing so a couple of days ago. My vet said it's because he is lacking a mineral in his diet, but can I give him supplements? He has a normal healthy appetite but the dirt eating has me questioning if his milk replacer is as good as is says it is lol any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: bottle calves for newbies

Postby Double R Ranch » Thu Apr 06, 2017 8:46 pm

CanChaser17 wrote:I have a pretty good question as well, my 2 week old calf is a big fan of eating dirt and he just started doing so a couple of days ago. My vet said it's because he is lacking a mineral in his diet, but can I give him supplements? He has a normal healthy appetite but the dirt eating has me questioning if his milk replacer is as good as is says it is lol any advice would be greatly appreciated.


I would suggest starting a new thread with this. You'll get more responses. Not everyone follows this thread. :)


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