Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Suckling a Baby Calf


A rancher takes on a lot of jobs on the ranch.  That includes being the on-call lactation consultant. 

There are a handful or reasons that calf has a hard time nursing.  Some problems come from the cow not realizing that they have a calf to care for (you would think with all of the work they did to get that baby here they would stick around for the rest!).  Others times momma just doesn't want to let the calf suck and pushes him away (or kick and head butt).

But sometimes its the calf that is having issues.  It could be because he doesn't have the energy to do it.  And then there are times the calf just doesn't know what to do or where to go to get the milk.

This is when The Rancher comes to save the day!

Once again we head to the maternity pens and get the cow settled since she might be there for a bit.  Our approach to help the calf depends on who's the weak link (obviously).  Just getting momma and baby in the pen together could be enough.  But when its not we will put the cow in the head catch and hobble her legs to make it easy for the calf to nurse (without the hard love kicks).

If it is the calf not knowing how or not having the energy to nurse it means that there is a little more work for The Rancher.  A good place to start is just pointing baby is the right direction and squirting a little milk in his mouth.  If he doesn't take the cue to start nursing... then we just keep trying. 

One of The Rancher's go-to strategies is to start the baby sucking on one of his fingers.  Once the calf is sucking hard, he will slip in the cow's teet.  If he keeps sucking, we are good to go.  But sometimes baby just doesn't get it.  And as the last resort we just milk the momma, bottle feed the baby and leave them in the maternity stall.  There are times that doing less and giving them space is all they need.  

Who new that The Rancher could be such a terrific lactation consultant?!

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