Tuesday, October 28, 2014
So, how are the calves doing, you ask?
Grace gives around four gallons of milk a day, which means each calf gets two gallons daily... one gallon in the morning, one at night. This is twice as much milk as a calf needs, not to mention that Grace, although part Holstein, gives milk as rich with cream as a pure-bred Jersey's. So, by last weekend, I had two calves with diarrhea (in calves it's called "scours"). The treatment for that is pretty much the same as human babies get: Stop giving them milk and, instead, give them electrolytes. Human babies get Pedialite, calves get something similar. You mix a packet of powder in a half-gallon of water and give it to them twice a day. I also have some pills I get from the vet that work wonders.
Actually, I never took Gypsy totally off her mom's milk, and I didn't give her electrolytes; only the pills. I milked Gracie until I figured there was only a half-gallon or less and let her baby have that. Whitie was a different story. He didn't even want to get up when it was time to eat. I mixed up the electrolyte solution and put it in a calf bottle, but he had no desire to suck on the bottle.
So I brought out the big guns and tube-fed the electrolyte stuff for two feedings, as well as giving him his pill. Saturday morning we left to visit Gusewelle. When we got home, Whitey was bawling almost with every breath, wanting to eat. A bawling calf is a healthy calf, an old neighbor of mine once said, and that's the truth. Sick calves don't bawl.
Many people are scared to death to tube-feed a calf, but it's the easiest thing in the world. You just make sure none of the liquid starts flowing through the tube until you have it clear down to the stomach, so nothing ends up in the lungs. Years ago a neighbor had a month-old calf whose mother died, so he sold it to me. It refused a bottle, so I wrestled him and held him in a corner to tube-feed him. He never accepted a bottle, but he did figure out he was getting fed with the tube and cooperated nicely after a while. I weaned him when he was three months old.
As of today, everybody is fine. I am still taking some milk from the cow before I put her with the calves, trying to ease them up to the point where they can take all that milk without getting a belly-ache.