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Debbie Meier
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Has anyone had any luck raising Jersey bottle calves, especially in cooler areas, still getting down into the 30/40's on occassion here. We got 5 in last week, lost 2 and I think we have a few more coming this week.

 

...and I'm the one that rehomes orphan lambs due to not wanting to deal with them.....(where's the head bang icon when you need it)

 

Deb

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Debbie, this isn't a real answer but...it must be possible because we had 60 of them as stocker steers last summer that we grazed. I'm in Portage, Wisconsin.

 

How old are the ones that you got? Do you know why they died? Did they get enough colostrum? It's hard to have young bottle fed animals do well when the temps fluctuate like they have in the last couple of weeks, it messes with their immune system.

 

Laura

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We made some big mistakes, the first was treating them like beef calves as that is where Wayne's expirence is. My previous dairy calf expirence was in a dairy where we fed cows milk and then transitioned to replacer when they were a week old or so, so I was in uncharted territory and should have done more research.

 

They were only a couple/few days old and had their colostrum, they came from Wisconsin and had a long trailer ride with 180 holsteins calves on their way to Missouri. We should have hit them with electrolyte when they got here (at 1:30 am) and then followed up in the morning with a 1/2 feeding, instead we hit them with a full feeding that they wolfed down which scoured them, then they came down with the snots, and they dehydrated. We also should have plugged in the heat lamps, temps dropped below freezing the first two nights. We hit them with sulfa and Nuflor but I think it was already too late for them to recover. From the reading I've been doing I'm finding that once they scour and begin to dehydrate the chances of turning them around is bleak.

 

So, now I'm armed with a bag of Merrick Electrolyte packets, a bottle of kaolin, a bottle of sulfa, a stomach tube and in the process of developing a plan. I feel like I'm preparing to go to war...

 

What we have left here is currently on a routine of electolytes with an egg mixed in, in an attempt to calm their intestines down. I'm just getting ready to go out and administer a dose of Kaolin with a follow up of a 1/2 milk feeding that is light on the replacer. Hopefully I can start building them back up and won't need the stomach tube for the next group.

 

It's a learning expirence, learning some tricks to use on any future orphan lambs. Thank god we didn't get the 10-15 in on the first load like we originally talked about.

 

Deb

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Well go for the head banging icon if you want, but at least it sounds like you're doing the best you can now. My ex-husband tried to raise some Holstein bottle calves a long time ago too and it went like you've described. At least you started with small numbers. Hopefully it will go better now.

Laura

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Thanks Laura,

 

Seems like others I have spoken to pver the last few days have learned the lessons the hard way just like us. I guess it's one of those gotta live it to learn by it deals. I'm hearing 50% loss rates and higher when you first start out, funny thing is, we didn't hear that until after we had sick calves. That was when we were told of all the little preventative tricks that were being used to keep bottle calves healthy.

 

btw..my really nice organically raised cross bred calf ain't organic anymore...he alone will pay for the loss of the others if I can get him through, he's a heck of a nice calf, and he hates Kaolin, anyone know how to get it down without having pink snotted all over yourself and everything else? I thought I would be sly and mix it but have been told to not do that and administer it by itself...darn it..

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Young dairy calves are notoriously fragile and averse to shipping. I'd look for some closer to home, if you can possibly find them. There's a reason why Jersey bob calves are practically given away at sale barns -- they can seldom survive long enough to make it into Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup. (Yes, that's where a lot of them go. Read the label.)

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OK this is really going to sound lame ;-) (I can see Bill rolling his eyes right now ;-) ) but just for the heck of it why don't you try dosing them with about 12-15cc's of coconut oil? It will almost certainly clear up the scours and the other benefits (lauric acid) to the immune system could give them a little boost as well. I only recommend this because I have had miraculous results with feeding coconut to my old (30+) horse. The change in him in the last 2months since we started on the coconut is amazing. I also know of people that dose colts with scours, with the Coconut oil, and they swear by it. (I;'ve also tested it on my dogs, worked for them too) Hey it can't hurt them ;-) and it's not going to break you, so why not give it a shot. If you do decide to use the oil, get virgin oil (cold processed) so all the good stuff hasn't been processed out. If you really want to go cheap though just get some coconut macaroons (seriously!) and feed those to them. That's what I started out with with my old guy, just gave him a couple of cookies and he went from liquid poop to firm apples in just one day. I'm tellin' you ;-) it works!

 

Betty

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Thanks Betty, but my first thought... where the heck am I going to find Virgin Coconut Oil out in the middle of Boondocks, Iowa? I would totally be floored to find it at our little Fareway grocery store that still bags your groceries and has a courtesy carry out to your car. Maybe HyVee....

 

 

I don't think cookies would work, their rumen is not up and running yet.

 

Anyway, wish us luck... they shipped us 3 crossbred replacements last night, the calves had their own compartment in the front of the trailer away from the holsteins this time. These three are nicer then the ones we lost, bigger and just seem more thrifty, I think they are also from an organic dairy. So we started over...first stripping the barn, bleaching the heck out of it, set up a pen for what is left where they can't touch the new ones and we are off and running. This time only giving electrolytes rather then milk when they arrived, plus a shot of penicillin and offering a diluted bottle of milk replacer this morning (1 qt with 2.5 oz of powder). The plan is electrolytes at 3pm and then milk again at 9pm. At the first sign of scours Kaolin and a sulfa bolus. Documenting everything we do so that if it works we can rinse and repeat with the next shipment.

 

 

The only other change we may consider is to place each individual calf into their own pen/crate for the first week or so by converting our hog pens into calf pens, would be way easier to monitor and keep everyone clean. They get chasing each other around trying to nurse on anything hanging off the others. One article suggests setting up individual pens so that the calves can not "kiss"...

 

I can certainly see why the veal farms are set up like they are.

 

It's tough to find calves locally that are not singles. I wonder if the larger dairies have contract buyers picking up the calves, that is what the supplier does that brings us ours. They have a weekly route collecting calves and then they transport groups to the veal farms. For the dairy it would be a better deal then having to entertain individual buyers.

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You've got to find calves closer to home. I can't see any huge improvements on the survival rate if they have to travel so far. You're buying the germs from every farm they go through, plus travel stress.

 

In addition to many of the things you mentioned I would tube them upon arrival with colostrum/electrolytes and give them both oral and injectable b complex as well as vitamin A. 10,000iu of Vitamin A per 10 lbs for 3 days in a row works wonders for upper respiratory prevention and treatment. Our vet started us on this when kennel cough ran though the dogs and its the bar none, one of the most useful things I've ever found for uri trash prevention and treatment in dogs and livestock both.

 

I think even the larger Walmarts have virgin coconut oil now.

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