Friday, July 29, 2011

Meet the herd

Now that everyone has a name, I thought I would post an intro to our new herd. They are all about 4 weeks old now.

Steak is a Holstein and is our biggest calf. He is very friendly, and always eager to eat! Once he is done eating, he likes for us to hang around petting him.

Dinner, named because of the 'place mat like' black patch that goes over his back is our smallest calf. He is also a Holstein, like Steak. We are having a bit of trouble with him. He is very listless, and I have had to drop a tube into his stomach for feeding for the last 2 days.

Norman is a Guernsey calf, and size wise, he is in the middle. We have had the most trouble with him as far as health. We came very close to losing him and while he is not out the woods yet, he is doing much better!

I have had a very steep learning curve with having these guys around for the last week! Bottle calves are tricky. The milk replacer is very hard on their systems, and cause a condition called scours. Scours is basically diarrhea, and will kill them pretty quickly if you don't replace all the fluids they lose from it! (That is how we almost lost Norman.) As long as we keep them hydrated, they have a chance to make it I am currently bottle feeding them their 2 milk bottles each day along with 2-3 bottles of electrolytes (depending on how they look...if they look at all dehydrated, I give a 3rd bottle of electrolytes).

To help guard against scours, we feed them grain...though right now they do not really like it, we keep pushing it on them to develop their taste for it. Getting some into their tummies helps reverse the scours.

As of right now, I don't know how long I will be dropping tubes into Norman and Dinner...I would like for it not to be real long as it takes a great deal longer to feed everyone one at a time, than it does when they run up and all eat at the same time.

Having these calves is definitely more work than I had anticipated it being...I was thinking the 2 milk bottles/day, cleaning their sheltered area, making sure they had solid food and water would be it...but it is much more than that! Bottle calves really are a lot of work! The real test on what I think of it will come in the spring, when we decide if we will do it again!

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