#56, our new calf, didn’t make it

Back in July I noted that #25 had had a new little calf, #56. This calf received all the normal care we offer, which frankly isn’t that much. The moms do the work of raising the calves unless there is a problem. We had noted a couple of issues with this pair though.

1. #25 would let other calves nurse her even though they were not her calves. She made no effort to kick other calves off as she should but #56 was nursing as well..

2. #56 seemed pretty lazy. We sometimes had to move him to the next paddock where the other calves would run in on their own.

It seemed that while his peers were doing well, #56 wasn’t thriving however when I left to go out of town last Sunday, he was doing fine. When I got home Friday, we moved the cows and noted that #56 wasn’t with the rest of the cows. His mother was at the front of the line apparently oblivious to his absence so we went into the woods to look for him. I found him in the shade, laying down and looking bedraggled. His breathing appeared somewhat labored and he was definitely weak. My immediate thought was dehydration, probably from not nursing mom.

Cow and sick calf
#56, with mom in the background.

We went ahead and moved the other cows into the new paddock, keeping mom and two accidentally kept calves with #56 in the old paddock. This would help with the competing calves nursing and give this guy a chance. Mom was quite distraught, calling for the cows in the other paddock and not seemingly very worried about her calf still in the paddock. The two extra calves thought this was a grand adventure and had lots of fun being out from under Uno (mom number 1) and Sprinkles (mom number 2’s) thumb. The mom’s standing at the corner of the new pasture hollering for their calves were not nearly as pleased.

With everyone sorted out, we tried to let the calf nurse and #25 stood there for a minute to give him a chance but he would not nurse.

Calf trying to nurse but giving up
Calf trying to nurse but giving up

I then took Pedialite in a bottle and tried to get him to nurse. He drank a bit but no much. Then I switched to Pedialite in a syringe and was able to get about 150ccs in him. I gave him a break and then came back in about 1.5 hours. I got another 120ccs in him then another break, then I was able to get about 160ccs in him. During this time I also gave him a shot of 1cc of Banamine to help him feel better. All the while he was looking pretty bad. I went to lunch to give him time for a break and for the medicine and fluids to do what they could.

Immediately after lunch I came back and found that the little calf had passed away.

#56 in the truck. He was buried on the home farm where he was born.
#56 in the truck. He was buried on the home farm where he was born.

In reflection, this calf had not been strong since he was born and his mother nursing anyone who came by as opposed to kicking them off as she should certainly didn’t help him. This is the second calf that #25 had lost and that’s 2 for 2. She is a purchased cow, full blooded Angus. Her sister died on me last year. I think it’s safe to say that we have a bad bloodline here. #25 will be coming to a freezer near you as soon as I can arrange the processor and the space in the freezer.

“Love your children, forgive your enemies. Do neither for your cows.”

Every time I don’t follow that advice I’m shown it was correct. Had I culled #25 when she lost that first calf, her replacement would already be calving a healthy calf. It’s one strike and your out around here.

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