Holiday Ranch
Breeder of South Poll Grass Cattle

Premature South Poll calf

Wednesday we had a new calf – Holiday 1004.  She is a heifer and just beautiful.  We believe she was a bit premature as she was very light-weight at  thirty pounds.  We found her lying in the pasture shivering.  The mama had cleaned her off but she was very weak and could not stand.  We got her on her feet because she needed to nurse, but she just crumpled down.  Now we go into panic mode!

It is almost dark and we need to get the mama to the barn so we can milk her.  It is important that the calf get colostrum immediately.  We had loaned our powdered colostrum to a friend who had never replaced it, so we do not have that to fall back on.  The colostrum contains all the good things the calf needs for a healthy start such as antibodies. 

It is almost impossible to move a single cow because she wants to stay with the herd.  The herd would have to be moved through four paddocks to reach the barn or we could move the herd past our home and directly to the barn.  Given the impending darkness, we had no choice; the cows would have to move past our home.

Cliff picks up the calf, starts toward the barn, calling the cows to follow him.  The cows arrive at our front yard, stop, and scatter.  Half follow Cliff and the other half go thru the front yard, with me “shooing” them.  They walk thru my vegetable garden with me “shooing them”.  When they reach the back yard they can see their herd mates at barn and, finally all but two reach the barn.  We work the cows in the sorting pens to get the new mama separated.  The rest of the cows, including the two stragglers, get put in the field immediately behind the barn.

We put the mama in the chute and milk her, getting about 12 ounces of colostrum.  We put that in a baby bottle and feed the new calf.  She is so weak so can barely nurse.  We have to squeeze the nipple for the calf and then try to get her to swallow.  We manage to get about half of the colostrum into her.  By now it is pitch dark.  We lay several bales of hay on the ground in the sweep tub and let the baby and mama stay there.

We come back at midnight and get another four ounces of colostrum into the baby.  She is so weak.  Cliff holds her in his arms like a human baby.  He has to hold her head up for her.  I am worried.  Will she be alive in the morning?

Thursday morning.  When I arrive at the barn, the calf is standing up!  A definite improvement.  But she is still very weak.  We have some raw Jersey milk we have warmed for the new baby and get her to drink about 6 ounces.

We leave the calf and mama alone, hoping the calf can nurse the mama.  We come back mid afternoon.  The calf is sleeping.  We wake her and feed some more Jersey milk.  The calf seems to be getting stronger. 

We will leave them together overnight and reevaluate the situation Friday morning.

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