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Andrea Scheer
Andrea Scheer, Large Animal Vet
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 128
Experience:  DVM
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Calf cant suck 2 days old pretty weak Mouth seems fine, Put

Customer Question

Calf cant suck 2 days old pretty weak Mouth seems fine, Put tube down esophagus and Put a mixture of Colostrum and real milk got lots of Brown/red stool out the backside after that, is the calf just retarded when it comes to sucking
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
With the tube we put about a quart of colostrum down with some real milk, it weighs about 45lb
Never had one that could not suck strong
put finger in mouth and very little suction
Expert:  Andrea Scheer replied 2 years ago.
Hello this is Dr. Scheer and I am a large animal veterinarian. I think I may be able to help you with your calf.
What you have described so far sounds very much like the calf has stomach ulcers. This is a common thing for calves of this age to get and they can vary quite a bit in severity. When the ulcers are very severe the calf feels sick and painful when milk hits the open sores in the stomach and associates the pain they feel with suckling and often lose a good suckle reflex.
I think you are doing the right thing by tubing the calf with milk and colostrum when he isn't eating. He should be getting at least 6 (even better 8) quarts of milk a day from you or the cow. Try adding some milk of magnesia and baking soda to the milk you bottle feed/tube. Start with a teaspoon of each and increase to double that as needed. Ulcers take 10-14 days to heal but the calf should be feeling better in a day or two once it realized it actually feels better after eating. Keep up the milk of magnesia for 2 weeks if you can. The baking soda needs to only be given for 2-3 days. Occasionally, the milk of magnesia can cause an osmotic diarrhea. If he starts to scour, you may need to add in a meal of electrolytes either bottle or tube fed also. Make sure to give the electrolytes at least two hours after and before milk feedings.
Other possibilities for this calf are coccidiosis, cryptococcus or viral scours. For those he needs supportive care - alternate bottle feeding or tubing milk, colostrum and electrolytes: 2 quarts of each three times a day. This sounds more like ulcers to me though. An infectious scours at this age would be due to not getting any colostrum within 6 hours of birth.
I hope that information is helpful and let me know if there is anything else I can answer for you!
~Dr. Scheer