Calving conundrum

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6 years 5 months ago #536298 by Stikkibeek
Calving conundrum was created by Stikkibeek
My lovely jersey cow calved early this morning. Another Bull damn! Anyhow, the calf was still wet and slippery and not up, so despite the cold wind blowing, we left it and went and had breakfast. About 3/4 later we went back and although mostly dry, the calf was still down and indubitably cold and shivering violently, so OH struggled to pick it up (long bodied calf, fairly heavy) and we took it and mother to the loose box and shut them in. Made a bivouac out of some hay and after massaging said calf,
wrapped it in hay and it started to warm up. I stripped some colostrum into the feeder bottle, and offered that. i was shocked at how cold its mouth and tongue were. it barely sucked but I got a little into it. It's had 6 little feeds today and will get one more about 11 pm. It is standing on its own now, but very unsteady. I managed to get it onto a teat very briefly about 3pm, but it wouldn't suck tonight and the mother got a bit upset and wouldn't stand, so, I milked her again and got about 300ml into the calf before he gave up sucking.
One thing that puzzles me, is how skinny it is. Ribs showing, gut so pinched in we could almost see right through it, bones sticking out on hips and shoulders, and of course weak. It was almost full term. Was due on the 8th, and the cow calved a week early last year, so that's not unusual.
Can't blame the horrible cold wet winter really although we did have one, as the cow is in good condition and all stock were fed hay all winter. So, why so skinny?

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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6 years 5 months ago #536299 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Calving conundrum
Big and long always makes them look very boney. Early calves are also less fatty than later ones (I've had enough later ones these last weeks to have noticed that!). Mine are usually quite thin and boney, then grow like stink as soon as they're out. Better that way than born fat and with difficulty. Big bulls are "dummies" quite often. Just guessing. I hope he comes right. With all that feeding, he certainly has the best chance!

I fed one of my helped ones for the first day before she and her mother got on with it themselves. Our biggest, most troublesome calf last year had to be helped for the first three or four days before he could do it alone. Big calves are a pain.

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6 years 5 months ago #536300 by Sue
Replied by Sue on topic Calving conundrum
Perhaps there is a bit more going on physically and internally other than a cold start?
Hope he is a bit more enthusiastic this morning.
Thank goodness my 63kg bull calf was up and about on his own when we met him and didnt need lifting or feeding!

Sue
Labrador lover for yonks, breeder of pedigree Murray Grey cattle for almost as long, and passionate poultry person for more years than I care to count.

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6 years 5 months ago #536301 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic Calving conundrum
The cold nose and inside its mouth indicate hypothermia - most likely immersion hypothermia from the amniotic fluid. A wet calf born in a cold wind will lose body heat very quickly - especially a prem one with little fat reserve, which it will use up rapidly - hence the drawn-in gut. It's one of the leading causes of death in the first 24 hours. Is there a chance the birth was more difficult than normal? Hypoxia during birth complicates the hypothermic calf's ability to regain heat. You certainly did the right thing getting warm colostrum into it and massaging it down. How is he this morning? I hope he recovers quickly.

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!

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6 years 5 months ago #536302 by LongRidge
Replied by LongRidge on topic Calving conundrum
Sounds rather like not quite enough iodine for the cow throughout pregnancy, especially in the last 6 weeks. As a generalisation, bull calves are much more stupid than heifer calves.

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6 years 5 months ago #536305 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic Calving conundrum
Pretty unlikely, LR. Iodine deficiency in a calf has normally recognisable signs - usually a swollen thyroid is the obvious one, but also accumulation of fluids in lymph areas. Sometimes there are patches of hair loss.

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!

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6 years 5 months ago #536308 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Calving conundrum
Checked him this morning and milked out a bit of colostrum for the calf but he wasn't interested, so he must have found a teat before we got there. I turned the cow out of the box so she could feed and got her back in to feed him at 11.30. He latched on to a back teat for a while. I will let the cow back in about 3 for another feed and then in for the night about 6. I desperately need to build a cow bale now since it is too late to get a feeder calf to clip on.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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6 years 5 months ago #536311 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Calving conundrum

Rokker wrote: ...Iodine deficiency in a calf has normally recognisable signs - usually a swollen thyroid is the obvious one, but also accumulation of fluids in lymph areas. Sometimes there are patches of hair loss.

I started supplementing Iodine in the drinking water over winter several years ago, after a conversation with a fert rep who had also been an animal nutritionist. She reported an earlier meeting with a farmer who'd had too many dead or weak and floppy calves and had done some testing and discovered that Iodine deficiency was the likely cause. There had been no goitres or any obvious other signs.

It makes sense that we should all supplement the animals to some degree, since we people are all eating Iodised salt to make up for the soil deficiency here. I figured it was worth a shot and while it's hard to know whether it makes a difference or not, most of my calves this year have danced around their mothers within an hour of birth, after their first feed. They're up and away without any problems. They may well be brighter and cleverer than they would have been if I'd not Iodised their mothers' water.

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6 years 5 months ago #536320 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic Calving conundrum
Interesting, Ruth. Iodine deficiency, being diet-related, would normally manifest itself throughout all or most of the herd, so yes, in the case of that farmer's many calves then things such as iodine deficiency would certainly be on the check list. In Stikki's isolated case however, I'd be looking at the more obvious hypothermia problem first of all.

As for supplementation, I couldn't agree more. I would have thought it normal farming practice to monitor trace element levels and supplement where necessary. Most, if not all, New Zealand soils are low in iodine and some health reports show a rising trend of iodine deficiency in our population. More fish and chips meals needed, I think! :)

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!

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6 years 5 months ago #536321 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Calving conundrum
Hypothermia in an hour? Seems likely there are other factors at play too.

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6 years 5 months ago #536323 by Stikkibeek
Replied by Stikkibeek on topic Calving conundrum
Well he's doing all the right things now. Sucked out the best part of two teats at 3pm and is dancing around in the loose box albeit still a bit wobbly behind, made a dash for the door when I let his mother out.
Will check him again at 9 tonight, but I think he is out of the woods now.
Ruth, what length did you make your milking side rail on the dummy. We have the old chain and leg rope eyes in an end wall for a bit of an idea in the old cowshed, but the dummys were pulled out a long time ago. If you have any close up photos that would be good. I looked through your webpages for some idea, but didn't find anything close up enough to gauge. Since it is too late to find a feeder calf, I will have to milk her, but looking forward to that except we will have to take action pretty quickly as it was yesterday she calved.

Did you know, that what you thought I said, was not what I meant :S

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6 years 5 months ago - 6 years 5 months ago #536324 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Calving conundrum
I'm trying to find the plan to send you.

If by dummy you mean the short rail on the side you sit to milk, 1.2m according to my drawing.
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Last edit: 6 years 5 months ago by Ruth.

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6 years 5 months ago #536326 by Rokker
Replied by Rokker on topic Calving conundrum

Ruth wrote: Hypothermia in an hour? Seems likely there are other factors at play too.


Not sure how you calculated an hour from the details in the opening post, but a wet calf can become severely hypothermic very rapidly, and Stikki's calf showed all the classic symptoms. Seeing as the calf has now picked up I'm not sure I'd be too worried about "other factors" at this stage.

Do NOT cross this paddock! ... Unless you can do it in 9 seconds, 'cos the bull can do it in 10!

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6 years 5 months ago - 6 years 5 months ago #536327 by Ruth
Replied by Ruth on topic Calving conundrum
"...calved early this morning. Another Bull damn! Anyhow, the calf was still wet and slippery and not up, so despite the cold wind blowing, we left it and went and had breakfast. About 3/4 later ..." Easy. I read it. And since the original problem is now resolved, I'd most definitely be looking at the other possible factors, with an eye to potentially resolving them for next time!
Last edit: 6 years 5 months ago by Ruth.

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6 years 5 months ago #536331 by Ronney
Replied by Ronney on topic Calving conundrum
There are as many designs for cow bails as there are cows to milk but most have similarities. The following photo is what mine looks like and should give you some idea of where you want things. This shed was set up as a milking shed with gates, milking plant, hot water cylinder etc. from an old walk-through but is similar to a shed Kevin built for me in Taupo 20 years ago, just bigger. Most bails I've milked in have the dummy wall (if we're talking about the same thing) come back to the shoulders on a larger cow such as a Friesian. You can see the leg rope eyes in this photo, I've only ever used them once and that was on the cow that made the mess on the floor before Simmy came in to be milked! I both hand milk and machine milk in this shed. Can take measurements if that would be helpful.

Behind that cow is a yard where the cow and calf can be brought in or the calf separated, and it opens directly into the cowshed.

Don't worry about getting her milked over the next few days now that the calf has started to drink on his own - thought he might with the help you were giving him but wasn't going to muddy the waters. This will give you time to bang something together temporarily to comfortably confine her. I had two cows calve during the Simmy drama and neither were milked for over a week after calving other than by their calves. I'm now getting more milk than I know what to do with, on a OAD milking without separating the calves. Is this a Jersey?



Cheers,
Ronnie
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