Post by windswepthill on May 28, 2011 12:23:45 GMT -5
One of our Dexters calved two days ago. I have only seen the calf try to nurse a few times and maybe only for 30 seconds at a time before her mom moves away. Mom's way full of milk and her udders are big and pointing outwards. She oftern walks away and leaves the calf in the bushes. Sometimes the calf actually walks away from her mom, goes under the bottom fence wire which is live and hides in the deep grass in the next paddock over where nobody can get her.
Should I try and feed her from a bottle? Am I being to nosey?
The mother is 6 years old and has been bred several times. In fact one of her daughters calved the day before she did. Those two seem to be way more together and I see them nursing all the time.
If the calf is up and about and seems healthy, it is probably nursing for short periods of time that you are not present to see. Sometimes we put some feed out for the mom so she will stand still and let a calf nurse if the mom is a little nervous. They are notorious for getting under fences.
I have a different take on this. Do you see any white foam on the calf's lips, to indicate it's getting milk? Does the calf seem to be getting weaker? Does it run around and try out it's legs or is it lethargic?
If the calf is only on the teat briefly, and then it walks away and lies down somewhere, there is a chance it's not getting any milk at all. It could be the plugs in the teats are really hard. I'd be out there checking manually to make sure all four cylinders are firing, so to speak, and with two days gone by already, I wouldn't stop for coffee on the way....
If they aren't, then you'll need to get those plugs out for the calf, and get the milk running, and hold the calf up to the cow and make sure it's getting something to drink. if this is the problem, the calf may have more or less given up, and you'll have to squirt some milk into its mouth, and rub milk on the teat, and get the calf's mouth onto the teat. A finger in the mouth should encourage the suck reflex and once this is operating, you should be able to get the calf to transfer to the teat. I'd be ensuring the calf nursed at least every couple of hours, making sure it got milk, even if I had to repeat the original process.
OR, after I knew for sure the teats were open and this wasn't the problem, I'd think maybe the cow's teats are so swollen it's sore for the cow and she's moving away because of that, and the calf has learned already it's not getting breakfast at this milk bar. Milk out the quarters a bit to take the pressure off, and make sure the calf is drinking. It may take a few days for the teats to not be sore so you'll have to manually encourage the calf and you may have to milk the cow down a bit again.
You don't say if the cow is kicking...this is one indication of sensitive teats. If this is the case, or if she continues to move off, then I'd have the cow tied up somewhere under control, let the calf on the cow (give the cow a little grain as a reward and to keep her attention focused elsewhere), and stand there with my leg blocking the stifle so she can't kick. Once the calf learns it's okay to drink, and any soreness is gone, they'll be fine together.
I hope Charles has the right take on the issue, but just in case, that's my input. No matter what the problem, I'd be out there checking to make sure there is milk flowing from all four quarters.
It's usual for the calf to work off one or sometimes two teats only (usually the front ones) to start with. Within a week, it'll be on all four, and the udder will balance out.
Let us know how you get on. C.
Last Edit: May 28, 2011 15:17:32 GMT -5 by cddexter
Cddexter, you are dead on! I would put her in a head catch and check her teats to see if the plugs are still in. I would take a hot rag and massage the teats until they unclog. I would then get the calf to suckle immeadately.
Post by kansasdexters on May 29, 2011 8:57:02 GMT -5
If you find that the cow's teats are plugged, and you are able to get the milk to finally come out by hand milking them, it may not be sufficient to just do this once. Until the calf is able to strongly and vigorously suckle all four quarters, you may have to continue daily or every other day milking to keep some of the teats from replugging and/or overswelling again. It can take a week or two (or more) before the calf is able to sufficiently suckle all four quarters and keep the teats from replugging or swelling. Sometimes the calf will pick a favorite quarter or favorite side of the udder and only nurse that quarter or that side, neglecting the other quarters. If that happens, then the cow will need to be milked daily or every other day to keep the udder balanced and healthy.
Some Dexter cows that are in their 5th or 6th lactation are capable of producing far more milk than what a newborn calf is able to take. These cows will have to be milked, especially in the first month of freshening, otherwise one or more of their quarters may become engorged, stay engorged, and eventually become damaged from neglect. If you notice this happening (and if you don't want to keep milking the cow), try milking out the engorged quarter(s) every other day, then every third day, etc. until the calf is keeping up with them.
Post by windswepthill on May 29, 2011 9:47:09 GMT -5
Thanks for the quick replies.
I went out last night and carried the calf into the pen so I could get a better look at her and her mom. The calf is not lethargic but I needed to get her and her mom in there without attracting the other 4 members of our little herd.. I tried to give her some cow gatorade (bounce back) but she did seem too interested. She seems to be pooping and peeing so something must be getting into her. I then tried to 'milk' her mom (while she was trying to walk away). It was not a controlled situation but I think I managed to get some milk from one of her udders. I will try the warm rag thing this morning and see if I can get them going. I have attached a few photos. It sure looks like there is milk backing up in there. I called the guy we bought the cows from and he suggested I put a halter on mom, tie her to something and try to milk her. Last week it was all I could do to 'touch' the mom but she seems to be tolerating my presence now. I see the mom pawing at the ground when I am in with them. Hopefully this is not like the old bullfighting movies! Fortunately she is dehorned or I would have been shish kabob already.
Well, the pooping is a good sign. The calf is definitely getting some nourishment. If you can get a halter on her and secure her for a closer inspection that would be good. I would also see if she would eat some hay/grain while tied up and see if the calf nurses then.
ahhh, good news. peeing and pooping is what you want to see. So the calf is definitely getting something to eat. The pawing behaviour is her defending the calf. Some moms will actually attack you. Sounds like yours is just trying to warn you off because she doesn't trust you fully yet.
For what it's worth, I've not bothered to milk out the extra from quarters that aren't getting full use by the calf, and none of cows suffered uneven or damaged udders. Lucky? dunno. With all the advice about 'should' milk out the quarters, I just don't want you to think you have taken on a huge chore that sounds like you'll be stuck with a lot of extra work again next year, and or for the other animals, too.
If the cow really does have a ton of extra milk, you could always pick up a dairy bull calf cheap, and tack him onto the other quarters. Veal goes to 3 months, but there's still a good bit of beef on younger animals, and you'll have a ready market for it as milk fed veal, even if you just keep the extra calf on for just six-8 weeks. You may have to augment the cow's feed with some grain to keep her production up, but it's a lot easier than having to be home to milk regularly. Once the extra calf smells like the cow, she'll likely accept him, no problem.
Thanks for the pic, and update. You're doing well. c.
PS....udders is a new thing I read about now, BUT, udder is singular, the cow having one. The udder does have four quarters, tho, so it's okay to talk about quarters, plural. ;D
Post by windswepthill on May 30, 2011 7:45:50 GMT -5
I did the warm rag massage for a few minutes. I did not get anything that I could see but then the calf took over and got way better results. I could see the white stuff around her mouth and hear the calf swallowing. I 'm still not sure if she is firing on all 4 cylinders (quarters) yet but it's a start.
I bought a halter and rope yesterday and will try to see if I can get Mama cow to stand still.
The rain is NOT staying mainly on the plain!
It's here in upstate NY just about every day.
Last night was a spectacular lightning show that made the phones ring a few times (no one was calling).
Most of the time I just let the cow get on with it, and never had a problem. Then there's the oops, that makes nervous wrecks of us all. Experience certainly modifies behavior, so I tend to err on the side of caution. Glad it worked out. c.