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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tube Feeding a Calf

It's not something any of us want to do, but to be responsible meat eaters, it is something we need to know how to do.

Zaphod is not sucking correctly. I watched him nose the water earlier today, and that's what he did, nose it. He didn't suck as cows normally do. He stuck his snout in the water several times, licking the drops off from around is mouth and up his nose. I attempted to drench him. Drenching is basically holding the calf between your legs and shoving the bottle's nipple down its throat and not letting off until they give in and suck. No such luck there. I stood there with him for a good twenty minutes, milk dripping down his throat and out his mouth. He went limp on me, refusing to even fight. The second drenching was after a bit of karo, and hours after a tube feeding. He fought, but his tongue always hung out to the side. Never once had he even attempted a suckle.

So to the tube feeding. It is a bit scary, what with reading about drowning your calf and all. There is that chance of course, but ignore it for now. Tube feeding is surprisingly easy, and no need for 20 items to do list like so many I found. The vet's directions over the phone are as follows.

Make sure it's all clean ( feeding tube and bag)
Lube tube with Vaseline or crisco
Put calf between your knees
Kink tube and insert over the tongue, following the left side of the jaw
Cough, pull it put. Gagging, gently push deeper allowing calf to swallow.
Once all the tube is in, unkink tube and let it flow.
Remove and wash.

We are feeding about two pints three times a day for the moment, and giving him 20cc of electrolytes. He has access to clean water and fescue, though we will be switching him to a creep shortly.

And now for your viewing pleasure, Husband and Zaphod present a tube feeding pictural.









Carolyn said...

Sorry you have to go through all this, but hope it helps him & hopefully he'll come around soon. I've never had to tube feed anything so thanks for the little pictorial & directions. Never know when you might need to do it.

Phelan said...

This is the first time we had to do it as well. I have had to bottle feed goats and sheep, but never a calf. He seems to be coming around already. His belly filled out overnight, he is standing longer, fighting harder, and is much more alert. You say his name, and his ears go back. He isn't very fond of us right now.

Mama has been bellowing at me, she's not happy and wants him back.

kymber said...

i am so glad that the little man is getting nourished. good job Phelan. i bet he'll be fine in no time with care like this! keep us updated, eh?

your friend,

Donna. W said...

It really is simple to tube-feed, and believe it or not I've had full-time farmers come and get me (I don't drive) so I could tube-feed their calves. They were afraid to do it. Tube-feeding has saved many weak calves for me, back when I was raising fifty or so bobby calves a year.

Anonymous said...

I lost a momma goat and her 2 babies in May. She gave birth to a stillborn and then 2 more and never could stand up afterwards. we tried everything to get those 2 kids to suckle, except tube feeding. We felt there was possible brain damage from being born after the stillborn. Ended up losing all 3, Momma and the 2 kids. It was heartbreaking since the only other goat I ever had I lost also to stillborns and delivery. That was over 30 years ago, I tried again and again had stillborns. Was thinking of giving up totally when my other doe who I thought was due in July, gave birth 8 days later to 2 boucing bucks. All have been well and are doing great. But next time I will try tube feeding, just need to find out where to get the equipment to do it. I am slowly building up a animal first aid box and keeping everything handy for whatever happens. Trying to be ready for anything. We haven't done too bad considering this is our first year of homesteading and hubby has only been out here with me since August, he was so glad to retire, but I came out early to get the barn built and raise chickens and try to get some things done. We are slowly getting there. Way behind you on planting but that is because our last frost date is May 31. Good luck with your calf.

Phelan said...

Kymber, will do.

Donna, It was a lot easier than I had imagined.

Adele, I am so sorry. It is always hard when you lose an animal. If you want I can post a list of items I have found useful over the years, to help with your first aid kits. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Wow.. I' so happy you are being successful. I haven't had to tube feed yet, we had one calf who had oxygen deprivation and it took almost two weeks to get him to suckle. Hope he keeps getting better.

Phelan said...

We seem to be dealing with depression now. But he seems to be slowly coming around. Had to increase his electrolyte intake though.

Phelan said...

Zaphod died this morning.

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