Calf Care – Trouble In Paradise

by Tammy Taylor

When we’re weaning calves we like to fenceline them when at all possible.  This allows mama and baby to see each other and eases their anxiety during the weaning transition.  We typically bring the calves into the barn pen where we have pretty heavily-fortified fences to allow the mama and baby to see each other but the fences are strong enough to keep baby separated.

Weaning Day

Recently we brought two of our registered Hereford calves into the barn pen to start their weaning process.  This heat and drought has taken it’s toll on the mama cows and we needed to go ahead & pull the calves that were old enough to wean to allow the dams to regain their body condition.  In the weaning pen we have free-choice hay for the calves and we also supplement them pretty heavily with creep as well, especially during this transition period.  We keep a close eye on them when they’re weaning and one Sunday evening we noticed signs of trouble in paradise.

Weaning Calf - Taylor-Made Ranch

Our pretty girl just didn’t ‘t look right.  She was standing with her legs held rigid and the back legs slightly back.  Her mid section was expanded and she had all the symptoms of bloat, yet it was more like mucus than foam coming out of her mouth .  We jumped into action bringing her into the chute to take a closer look.  We were perplexed – it looks like bloat, but what could she bloat on?  We’re in yet another drought and there’s precious little actual GREEN in the grass.  Hummm…  We decided to try to tube her, she was in obvious discomfort.  But for some reason we couldn’t get the tube to go through.  OK, we’re in over our heads.  Although it’s late on a Sunday evening and the emergency vet fee will be very high, this girl can’t wait.  A call was placed to our vet’s emergency number and although he was two hours away in no time he was speeding toward our ranch.  When he arrived he agreed that she did indeed look bloated.  He tried to tube her and was also unsuccessful in getting the tube through.

Vet Working On Calf - Taylor-Made Ranch

Upon further exploration he discovered that she had a blockage in her throat, and it felt like a small ball.  Acting quickly he gave her a shot of a medication to make her throat muscles relax and after waiting the required amount of time for the meds to kick in he once again tried to tube her, this time successfully pushing the blockage down & the tube hit it’s target.  She was bloated so he gave her a preventative mixture to keep her from bloating further and also a shot to help repair her irritated throat.  We discovered that due to the drought the horse apples (from Bois D’Arc trees) were much smaller than usual and were dropping prematurely from the trees.  Although it’s not unusual for us to see cattle munching on a horse apple from time to time, this was new!  Apparently because of the small size of the horse apples this year she was able to get it down into her throat where it lodged.  Thank goodness for a knowledgeable vet that gave up time on his Sunday evening to come to our ranch & save our girl.  He said she would have been gone if we had waited until morning.

It’s important as a rancher to pay careful attention to your animals & to be able to step in and take care of them medically when necessary, but equally important to know when treatment is over your level of ability and call in the big guns.  There’s never a dull moment on the ranch!

I share lots of fun stories & recipes on our facebook page, so c’mon by & follow us on Facebook.

~TMR~

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15 thoughts on “Calf Care – Trouble In Paradise

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Homesteading Posts Of The Year

  2. Diane

    I know next to nothing about cattle, but oh my, what a beauty she is! So glad the vet was able to come and remedy the situation. Babies WILL get themselves into situations, no matter the number of legs!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Thanks Diane, we’re really proud of this girl. She’s bouncing around like normal now so expensive though it was, it was all money well spent~ ~TMR~

      Reply
  3. barbaraconnery@yahoo.com

    You were lucky and so was the calf! When I think of all the horrors that go on in the beef industry you are one of the good guys!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Barbara, unfortunately the bad guys get much more press than the good guys – there are actually far more good guys out there who properly care for their animals than there are bad guys, but unfortunately it’s not the good guys’ story that sells in the news… But yes, things worked out well for her and she’s back to her ole bouncy self now so I consider that a win! 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply
  4. Heather @Green Eggs & Goats

    Wow! Sounds like you have a great vet! I’m so glad it all worked out in the end, and of course you’re right, there’s never a dull moment!!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      It was indeed expensive, but money well spent in this case. This heifer is as good as new now. ~TMR~

      Reply
  5. Summers Acres

    What a close call! So glad it worked out well. Thanks for sharing! Please join us again Thursday at: http://summersacres.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-homeacre-hop-autumn-giveaway.html ~Ann

    Reply
  6. Mindie

    It is so important to keep that eagle eye out on livestock big and small. Your vet sound like a wonderful guy! Thanks for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist. Looking forward to seeing what you share this week. Co-host Mindie ~ http://bornagainfarmgirl.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  7. farmer liz

    We had a similar lesson recently when our house cow got mastitis, we thought we could manage it, but then one morning she could hardly walk, so we called the vet, just in time also, to find that the infection had spread and she needed lots of antibiotics. Vet fees are expensive, but so are cattle, so you need to know when to call for help! Our lovely vet doesn’t charge extra for weekend call outs, but that is probably quite unusual!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Count your blessings FarmerLiz, the vet bill has been received. (GASP!) Financially painful but I realize & understand that you’ve got to do what you must to provide a healthy life for the animals entrusted into your care. ~TMR~

      Reply
  8. Candy C.

    Wow! Good thing you guys were keeping a close eye on things and thank goodness for a good vet! I hope she is going to be okay.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Yes Candy, once the vet pushed the obstruction on down and got her tubed her bloat was gone. He also gave her some anti-bloat meds to keep it from recurring while her irritated throat healed. Now she’s back to her cute-ole-self! ~TMR~

      Reply

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