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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Orphaned Calves~Trials 'n Tribulations

There's no better explanation than trials 'n tribulations when you try to graft a cow to a calf. It's something that I hope we don't have to go through again...but I doubt it...if you're going to raise any type of livestock, sh!t just happens no matter what you do to prevent it!

As you might remember, the lil' brown calf died on March 9 and we brought home the orphaned black calf on March 10. We've been struggling to get the cow to accept the calf ever since. The calf wants nothing more than to have a mamma that he can nurse from...Annabelle is just being a stinker...she threatens him by slinging her head at him and stomping her back hooves...but doesn't ever actually hurt him.

The day before yesterday, I was ready to through in the towel and just bottle feed the lil' guy...it would be a lot easier than going through the frustration with Annabelle. We took off the hobbles and turned them both out with the rest of the herd hoping that she'd step up to the plate and take care of her calf...24 hours later...nothin' doin'. I decided we'd get him separated out and just start the bottle. So, I've got him alone in the pen and am working at getting him into the stall to feed him and Annabelle comes running and bawling to the gate "what are you doing to MY calf?" Pffttt...alright, I put her in the pen with the lil' guy and she wants nothing to do with him. CRAZY damn cow! So, we bottle fed him and left him in the stall for the night...and fed him again in the morning.

Meanwhile, I'm Googling last resort ideas for grafting a cow and a calf...and came across an inspiring blog post at Double H Photography (photography, writing and ranching in rural Wyoming). She had written a post called "Calf Adoption Services" where her fiance had a bottle calf that didn't know how to nurse from a very willing mother cow (he wanted his bottle!). I know, the opposite of what my problem is...but she said "This would not happen like this at my house."

So...what did they do at her ranch? Maybe she could give me some pointers...couldn't hurt to ask, so I emailed her, and she sent me back a couple of very encouraging replies. "Sounds like you've won half the battle, if not the war, since she at least likes him when he isn't trying to eat!" said Heather.

Day 11...the best feeding so far.

So, My Man and I are back at it again...I had visions of udder utter bliss between the two of them after they had been together for five days...OK...then there's reality where things take longer than anticipated. It could be worse...so, keep going and keep trying.

We've always had to put her into the lead up to the squeeze chute so she wouldn't threaten the calf when he tried to eat. This morning, I gave her a bit of hay (she had not had any hay since last evening's feeding), got her to stand against the fence in the corner, threatened her with my stock stick when she was going to be nasty to the calf...and the calf nursed while she ate...it was success! She didn't act nearly as cranky!!!

When the lil' guy had his fill, I put him in the arena next to her pen with water and a handful of calf starter grain, gave Annabelle half her breakfast, and plan to go out at noon to do it all over again. The plan is to keep her a lil' bit hungry, and she gets a reward for standing for the calf...and she also gets to have her bag pressure released...I hope she'll put two and two together and realize the lil' guy is a good thing.

Rear approach...it'll be so nice to see him stand next to her instead of behind her. But this is where the calf feels the safest...even though he keeps getting cow crap on his head...poor thing!

There you have it...we'll just keep pushing forward and pray for the ultimate success...a pair!

BTW...thanks Heather for all your help!

Oh...another BTW...my "pool time" photos from yesterday were taken almost two weeks ago when it was almost 60 degrees and Rastus just wanted into any water he could find. Now we're back to ice on the water tanks again and feeding in insulated bib because the wind chill is down to 10 degrees. Yep, it's spring!

16 comments:

CDH said...

Very good on the splice! We've had 5 spilces this year. All a success! It does take patience and perserverance!! We usually put the mama in the chute and hook baby up. After I take baby and make them touch noses. Get milk all over babys body. Then in a few days, I get mama in the corner or the pen, and have a garden rake and just scratch her back with it or, just stand there with it raking the ground. That seems to work wonders and I have no idea why. When baby is almost done, I just walk away. I'll do this 3 or 4 times a day! Only if baby is crying. The calf also gets so used to the routine, that when they see you coming, they will cry, knowing mama will have to hold still. So, don't let little munchkin fool you into thinking he's starving. Like Heather said, looks like you have won the battle so far. :)

Andee said...

I hope it all works out. We've had maiden alpacas that like their crias but don't think they need to feed them. It make our lives more exhausting than having our own newborns. Hope it works out and I'm glad you found such a helpful person.

Nancy Claeys said...

Bless your heart -- I admire you for trying to get the two together. So glad it seems to be working... :)

C-ingspots said...

Sounds like a lotta work, but if it works out, it's for the best! You wanted to be a rancher right? :)
Yeah, spring...ever since the calendar says spring, it's gotten cold and started raining again. Go figure!

lisa said...

Dedication and perseverance is what it takes and you sure have a boat load of it! You go girl!

Susan said...

Have you tried tying a hind leg up? Put a loop around her neck loosely. Tie with a knot that won't slip. Then put a loop around one hind leg and through the neck loop. Tighten enough so the hoof is still on the ground so she can balance, but pulled forward so can't move around or kick. We've also had success in getting a cow to let a calf nurse that way.

Mary Ann said...

Poor little guy! At least he's still standing and trying to nurse.

gtyyup said...

No Susan, we haven't used that type of a hobble (scotch hobble)...didn't think about it, but I think it's a good idea and we may give it a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

CDH...I like your garden rake technique too...interesting how it seems to sooth the cows.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Good job!

Linda said...

I've been where you're at.....lots of times. Something to think about is that as the calf gets bigger and stronger it gets easier.....the cow will eventually give up and quit fighting in a while and then you're good to go. Patience grasshopper. The main thing here is that she DID come looking.

Candy C. said...

I sure hope all your patience pays off in the long run! Sounds like you have gotten some very good advice and hopefully SOMETHING will work out!

4RRanch said...

We've tried many techniques but this one seem to work best for us http://4rranch.blogspot.com/2010/04/adoption.html hope yours continues to work.

Buttons said...

Oh I can relate to this but I started bottle feeding a first time heifers calf and have been bottle feeding ever since:) Should have locked Mom in pen with calf but the bottle seemed easier. Annie the calf is weened now but still would love to have delivery.
Farming is fun isn't it. I am happy I found your blog. B

Dreaming said...

This is so far out of my league. It is fascinating and I admire your 'stick-to-it-tive-ness'!! I can't wait to see how this works out.

Dreaming said...

This is so far out of my league. It is fascinating and I admire your 'stick-to-it-tive-ness'!! I can't wait to see how this works out.

Cowgirl Rae said...

Good Job, don't give up. Make the cow uncomfortable, her own discomfort will help her change her mind. It helps to have a persistent calf, it's really hard when the calf is less ambitious.

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