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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 21242
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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We have a calf approx. 3 weeks old. His mother died during

Customer Question

we have a bull calf approx. 3 weeks old. His mother died during birth. He was born with his tongue hanging out and has trouble nursing on the adoptive mother, but has been until yesterday. He is now very sick, wont eat and has green stinky poo. I bottle feed him last night and this morning. he is having trouble drinking due to his tongue, I use a baby bottle to squirt it into his mouth. I also gave him electrolytes (8oz so far) planning on going out in a bit to give him more. what else can I do for him
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your wee one’s situation, and wanted to help.

Now if he has had trouble suckling, we may need to look into that to see if there is a an issue with his tongue function (ie nerve, due to an overly tight frenulum, etc), a jaw issue or general neurological issue. Though at the moment, it is a minor part of his situation.

That aside, I am glad to see that you are taking steps to keep him hydrated. While doing so, do keep a close eye on his hydration. Signs to watch out for are sunken eyes, tacky gums, and skin tenting. If you struggle for him to take the bottle, then you may need to start stomach tubing or drenching fluids/milk into him. In regards, ***** ***** much he will need at a time, this is going to be weight dependent. A general guideline for the anorexic calf is for every 10 lb (5 kg) of body weight, he will need ¼ to ½ litres of fluid a day as normal maintenance fluid intake. Obviously, he will need more to match the losses from scouring, but this is a good start to keeping him from dehydrating/starving. So, use this as your baseline and then add in an equivalent volume to the diarrhea losses (and minus anything he drinks on his own). And he will need this divided up over 3+ feedings, so as not to overfill his stomach. If you haven't stomach tubed a goat before, you can find some good guidelines ( or you can pop over HERE ( to see a video on how to pass esophageal feed a calf (the video is showing a calf but it’s the same principal). You can usually find these feeders at your local feed store and they are quite useful to have on hand for cases like this.

Furthermore, to try to tackle bacterial causes for the diarrhea, we would want to use a broad spectrum antibiotic (ie Penicillin, Spectinomycin, etc). Otherwise, we may need to collect a stool sample from him for his vet to test, tell us what is present (which bacteria, viruses, or parasite) and ensure we are on targeting treatment as best we can.

Finally, as long as their no blood in his stools, you can consider starting calf specific probiotics and also OTC Kaolin/Kaopectate. Both tend to be available at farm supply shops and can help slow diarrhea to slow his losses but also soothe and rebalance the good bacteria present.

Overall, we do need to tread with care when calves this young have such severe scours (especially if he didn't get colostrum and hasn't much immunity to the world around him). So, do keep up on the electrolytes but also consider the above to give him the best chance here.

Kind regards,

Dr. B.


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Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

How is everything going with your wee one?

Warm regards,

Dr. B.