This baby calf was brought in by the fire to warm up because it had developed a case of the scours (calf diarrhea) and become chilled. It was born a twin, but the mama abandoned it out in the field, letting only one calf nurse. It was brought in and bottle fed, but sometimes that can lead to tummy upsets. The calf was weak and didn't have much of a sucking reflex.
After getting warm, the calf was ready to stand up. It still couldn't suck very well, but we were able to get a little bit of milk in it. Then we took it out to an insulated shed, and we carried out an electric heater so the temperature would be warmer. The weather was supposed to be frigid, so the calf wasn't ready to be in an unheated place, yet. For the next two days, we fed it, three times a day--a bottle of milk in the morning, a bottle of electrolytes in the afternoon, and then another bottle of milk in the evening. The electrolytes were to replace fluids lost to the scouring. A healthy calf will drink two quarts of milk at a time. At first this calf was drinking less than a pint at a shot, so the feedings were more often than that. For the first feeding, I stood, bent over for more than an hour, trying to get it to take some nourishment. Finally, by the third day, with the help of a shot of antibiotics and some pepto bismol for an upset stomach, the calf started sucking hard on the bottle.
Eventually the calf was hungry and bawling every time I went out to the shed. So hungry that he would suck on anything, including the hem of my shirt. But, you can see in the moisture on the floor, that he was still scouring, so we bought some anti scour medicine and switched it out with the Pepto. That did the trick.
Look at him now. He's healthy and hungry all the time. Tomorrow, we'll move him to a less protected shed so he can acclimate to cold weather. We'll still have to feed him twice a day, but I plan on teaching him to use a bucket soon. If I don't, he will butt at me, much like he does his mom, as he eats. While that 's cute in a small calf, it's painful in a larger one, and in a steer, it's dangerous. I can't have him thinking of me as his mom. So, first he'll learn to drink from a bucket and then I'll introduce grain and water to him. Before you know it, he'll be out in the field running around with his buddies. Don't you just love happy endings?