Remember those two bottle fed calves we bought back in February? We have a black and white one who is growing like a champ. We also have a brown and white one, which has struggled from the first week of ownership. He has had several bouts of diarhea, which is called scours in calves. We have had the vet out to see him three times in his short six month life. Friday night, hubby came in from doing chores. I was already in bed, almost asleep, when he came in and told me he wasn’t sure the calf was going to live through the night. More scours. Except this time, the calf won’t stand up.
That night, we went down in the dark and found him laying behind the barn. We gave him a gallon of gatorade and some probiotics. Saturday he was in the same spot. Hubby and I had a cycling event that morning so Grandma came over to babysit and to do our chores. She reported the calf looked bad with a snotty nose. We hadn’t heard back our vet so we went to a farm store and bought injectable antibiotics, more probiotics, and electrolytes. The calf was still eating grain and hay and would drink the electrolytes. He couldn’t stand on his own. It was getting hot so Grandma and I rolled him onto a tarp and drug him into the barn to get out of the hot sun. After his ride, he laid his head down and his eyes rolled back. “He is going to die right now. Right here.”, I told my mom. She nodded in agreement. I quickly pulled his head off the ground and he just sat there. “No more laying down, guy”. That was scary.
Sunday the vet asked us to bring the calf to her. We used the tarp trick again and loaded him into the trailer. He was starting to get sores on his legs from laying down so long. Laying in his liquid poo wasn’t helping. We sprayed off the poop hoping that would at least make him feel better. The vet gave him several shots “anti-everything” she said. We even gave the guy an IV. He was so weak he fell asleep while I was holding his head. When I asked her what his chances of survival were, she said “most don’t survive”. She also said most farmers would have hit him in the head with something heavy at this point. Grandma wants us to tie a bell around his neck and call him the farm mascot if he survives. This is the point we decided to name him Scotty Scours.
We brought our very skinny sick calf home and unloaded him. We gave him a paste that is to treat for coccidiosis. We gave him more electrolytes. Three hours later, I went down to check on him and he was laying flat out on the ground. “He is dead”. Dang it! I just spent another $138 on this guy. At this point, we have invested close to $1000 if not more. I’m too depressed to look at the records right now, but between all the milk replacer, the cost of the calf, and the vet visits this calf is worth a lof of money. Not to the mention the emotional cost of raising an animal. I walked into his stall to confirm his death when I saw his ear twitch. I ran over and pulled that cow around and pushed until he was holding his head up. I tried to stand him up but he didn’t have the strength and neither did I. I trudged back to the house to tell hubby “Pretty sure this calf is going to die”.
Sunday night hubby was able to stand the calf up. He stood a few minutes before falling. Monday morning the calf was able to stand for about twenty minutes before laying down.
Tuesday, he stll could not stand on his own, but once we got him standing he could take a few steps and stand for a few minutes before falling.
As of Wednesday, he still can not get up on his own. He won’t even try. The vet says it is time to put him down. I want to keep hoping, but the truth is starting to set in. If the calf can’t stand, he can’t survive. He hasn’t stood since Friday. We are starting to make plans for the inevitable. I’ll write about that another day.
Farming isn’t easy. Hug a farmer today.