Friday, April 24, 2009

Oh No! Yet Another Mouth to Bottle Feed



Being a published food writer and former restaurant owner, one day, I suppose I will get to write about my heirloom garden and recipes that I want to share.
But for now, we have had more pressing matters here around Feed Me Farms. One of our Brahma Mommas had to be put down after slipping in a muddy pasture severely breaking her hip and leg. Keep in mind, our cattle are like pets, especially our heifers who live their entire lives here on the farm munching away on coastal grass and lounging in the meadows. Sadder still was the little calf that was orphaned.
This would be my second calf to bottle feed as I had just finished weaning ZZ Topinha (my first bottle fed calf that could not get proper nourishment from a bad udder). I had fed ZZ since day three of her life but this new calf would be a different story, she was already six weeks old and wild as can be. She had really never had any human interaction.
All that was about to change. My real life cowboy and his cousin roped her and placed her in my make shift nursery corral. There she was joined by ZZ Topinha and Beauregard. Beauregard is a one year old miniature Zebu that came to live with us recently. Beau is smaller than the calves and is already full grown so he is here by default.
As she ran around the corral bucking, kicking and trying anyway she could to bust out, her name suddenly came to me. Jezebel!
We decided the best way to get Jezebel to take a bottle was to learn from a pro, so back to the bottle for the weaned ZZ too.
Off I went to prepare 3 huge bottles and see if we could get this little one to drink, the plan was to give her two of the bottles and ZZ would get one for show.
Here is a step by step in case you find yourself in this very same predicament (with or without an experienced calf to lead the way).
Step One - As long as the calf is more than a few days old and has had it's mothers colostrum it is o.k. to feed it a milk replacer purchased from Tractor Supply or your local feed store. I also like to feed one electrolyte gel pack in case of dehydration. I have found that the non-medicated milk replacer is better and the calf is less likely to reject it. I use warm water and once the replacer is mixed, I put a dab of molasses on the tip of the nipple. The molasses seems to get their attention.
Step Two - Using a calf halter, tie the calf to a post or fence and walk and talk gently to it. We actually brushed Jezebel to calm her and then proceeded to drip a little of the milk on the tip of her nose to activate her sense of smell.
Step Three - If the calf will not take the bottle on its own, it's time to take action. Grasp the calf's mouth and pry her lips open. Cows only have lower teeth so do not hesitate to place your fingers inside. Position the bottle in her mouth and give the bottle a squirt. It may take a few trial and error starts and stops. Do not get frustrated, back away, allow the calf to take a break and then start all over again.
If you are lucky, you will have a ZZ Topinha like we did to show the new calf the ropes. ZZ was happy to lick the dripping milk from Jezebel's mouth after sucking down her own training bottle!
Just when we thought we could get away for 48 hours or so, we are back to square one - bottle feedings twice a day. In a way I am secretly happy, I was sad the day I thought I had given ZZ her last bottle. The world really does work in mysterious ways.

4 comments:

  1. While it highly unlikely that I will ever, ever run into a baby cow that needs a bottle, it was still an interesting read. I had NO idea about "only lower teeth"...

    from the "farmers old globetrotting life"...

    Leah

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  2. Imagine my cowboy's expression when I exclaimed.."wow, there is something wrong with this cow, she is missing all her upper teeth!"
    Even if barn animals are not in your future, I am sure that good food is. Please keep reading the blog as it will include food history and recipes, in fact here is an article I wrote awhile back about "Good For What Ales You" cooking with beer @ http://www.itemonline.com/features/local_story_311002216.html

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  3. I AM GLAD I AM NOT THE ONLY PERSON WHO GETS TO BOTTLE FEED A BABY CALF THAT HAS NEVER DONT IT BEFORE. WE HAD A CALF BORN YESTERDAY AND THE MOTHER WOULD NOT LET HER NURSE AND ACTUALLY KICKED HIM SERVERAL TIMES . LIKE YOU I WAS NOT RAISED ON A FARM AND MY HUSBAND MAKES FUN OF ME BECAUSE I FEEL LIKE THEY ARE MY PETS. THIS IS THE 2ND ONE I HAVE HAD TO BOTTLE FEED BUT WITH ANNABELL THE FIRST ONE WE WERE ABLE TO GET HER MOTHER TO TAKE HER AFTER 2 WEEKS. BUT I DO NOT THINK THIS ONE WILL BE THE SAME THE MOTHER IS ACTING LIKE THE BIRTH MIGHT HAVE DAMAGED HER. BUT WE ARE HOPING FOR THE BEST WISH ME LUCK LAST NIGHT I HAD TO WRESTLE WITH HIM TO FEED BUT HE IS CATCHING ON QUICK.

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  4. Hang in there Cheryl - I am on my 5th bottle fed baby for oe reason or another. I have learned from all of them.
    Here is what I have found:
    1)Make sure they get colostrum within 24 hours (either from their mother or the instant kind from the feed store). I also like to give them an electrolyte gel to keep the scours in check.
    2)Get them on milk replacer after 24 hours. I start by using a large syringe (like what you squirt medicine with) and get them to take a pint or two. Have your husband hold them, while you force it into their mouth. let them taste it and get used to it.
    3) Once they like it, start using a bottle - I like to dip the nipple in Molasses the first couple of times - they really love the sweet taste.
    4) We now feed our babies only twice a day. Once in the morning and once at sundown, makes it much easier.
    5) Always keep a bag of electrolyte gel powder handy. If the calf develops scours, feed them the electrolyte mixture instead of the milk replacer for a couple of feedings.

    Keep me posted! I would love to hear about your progress.

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happy hour @ FMF

happy hour @ FMF
party till the cows come home