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Calf death

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Cowmama

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I am inexperienced with calving. We have a 1st time cow that gave birth this morning sometime We found the calf at 7:00 am and it had ice on it. It was clean and it was trying to stand up, but having difficulty. We moved it and put it on hay and called around for a vet.
We could not contact a vet, so called friends and family for help. We were told that if the calf was shivering that it was starting to freeze to death and to put it in a hot bath.
We put it in a hot bath and watched it slowly die.
I am so heartbroken and wonder what I should have done differently. Please give advice. Thank you
 

littlejoe

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Calves--and people---in hypothermia stop shivering as they get below a certain point of being cold.

We've saved calves that we had to warm up quite a bit to get them to Start shivering.

I'm not sure it's recommended---but we've put really chilled ones in the bathtub numerous times. Gotta hold their head up to keep them from drowning at first--when they start splashing and playing in it--time to take them out.

We've got kinda a 'hot box'---but seems they usually end up in front of the wood stove, or in tub if desparate. Drying with rough towel and using a hair dryer gets circulation going and gets them warmed up.

Are you just starting to calve?

I gotta wonder if that calf was full term---seems like nature kinda sorts 'em out more towards the start.

We try to save them all---BUT---anybody who ain't lost some ain't owned very damned many!

Free advice: (my advice is always guarenteed to be worth double--or maybe half--what it costs):

You can't save them all.
Do what you can, learn what you can, move on.
Quit beating yourself up~~
 

Cowmama

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Thank you for your advice. I only have two cows and thought they were both due in January. The other cow has had 6 calves with no problem. This cow is 4 years old and this was her first calf. It was 14 degrees this morning and if she had it during the night, probably colder.
How do you know when you should do something? What signed should I having been looking for?
 

river rat

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If your calf was trying to stand up it wasn't as cold as his shivering would have led you to believe, and just taking him into a warm pickup cab or in front of a heater in your house or barn may have done the trick. If you do use a bathtub, only use it if a calf is nearly frozen stiff and then don't use hot water, lukewarm will do because it will shock the system if it's too hot. As Little Joe stated, it may have had nothing to do with the protocol you tried, but usually if a calf is trying to get on his feet, it's in better shape than you think, don't panic, warm it up a little slower, and when it get's warm and spunky, get it to nurse as soon as possible. Hope you have better luck next time.
 

Triangle Bar

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I'm sorry for your loss... death is a part of life for both man and beast and whether you own 1 or 100 head, each one lost is a sad deal. You have the right attitude, learn from the experience so you can be better prepared next time.

I like to put a chilled calf on the back porch next to the wood stove and start the process of drying them off, even if the cow has done an adequate job of licking the calf, they will still be soaked. Like littlejoe said, use some old towels and rub 'em dry as you can, everywhere sides, neck, chest, tummy, etc. Then set 'em up on their chest... front legs bent at the knee underneath them and use your hair dryer to warm and further dry starting with the vital organ areas. Once the calf starts shivering again and appears more alert, you can think about getting some warm milk into 'em, even a quart or two will get things moving. :wink: If all goes well then it's time to put 'em back with the cow.

I've never submersed a calf in a bath tub. If it works, fine and dandy but as previously stated, to fast a warm up may cause shock and be detrimental.
 

lefty

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Warm the calf up slowly & dry them ,If you can get them to drink even a cup of warm milk they will shake for a while & then go to sleep for maybe an hour or more . when they wake up its time to go see mom again .
I bet most of us have had kitchens full of calves before .
 

Denny

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The best thing I've used is the wood stove in my shop It has a fan on top and blows heat out the bottom we set a box made from pallets in front the warm air blows in underneath them which really works well and wood heat really penetrates a cold body.
 

leanin' H

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If the water was too warm it probably caused shock which caused the calf to die. Sorry you lost it but it sure does happen sometimes. :( Never fun though. I like to keep a close eye on cows as they approach calving time. Even an old cow can have a difficult presentation and need assistance though rarely. When you only have a few, it's tough to lose any. Like everyone else has mentioned, if you can warm them up by toweling them off and get some milk in thier belly, they are usually tough little buggers and will do fine. Best of luck to you. Next year i'd turn the bull out later and wait til the weather cooperates better to calve. :D
 

Shortgrass

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I've had the best luck just putting them in the PU under the heater. Some time ya just have to watch them die. If it isn't a bit tough for ya to experience, something is wrong.
 

burnt

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That's a tough loss and I'm sorry for you.

This spring I lost two of the earliest calves by drowning in water holes in the open field due to the unusually wet weather we had earlier. We had a good snow pack and then a lot of rain and there was water everywhere. So frustrating.
 

jingo2

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Slow warm up...rub down....moderate heat......then some warm milk in the belly...shock, like the tub deal,will kill them in this case.

The heart can't take that quick a change in body temp.
 
A

Anonymous

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Shortgrass said:
I've had the best luck just putting them in the PU under the heater. Some time ya just have to watch them die. If it isn't a bit tough for ya to experience, something is wrong.

I've warmed a lot up under the PU heater- but last year with the winter/spring we had I ran out of PU space and bought one of the calf warmers that Western Ranch Supply handles...Best investment I ever made- paid for itself with the first calf I stuck in it...

Something I do as soon as I get the calf in the heater is give them a squirt of that Nurse-Mate in their mouth... Seems to give them a little added kick of a quick shot of vitamins and nutrients and usually in a few hours when warmed they are hungry and looking for mom..
 

Big Swede

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This conversation got me to thinking about when your hands or feet get really really cold and when you go to the house to warm up and how bad it hurts as you start to warm up. Then think about a calf's legs and feet as they start coming back from hypothermia. No wonder they bawl and groan.
 

Silver

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A quick and easy way to tell if they are actually cold is to put a finger in their mouth, and / or feel their extremities. If the mouth is cold, the calf is cold and action is required. We've used all the methods previously described here, as well as blow dryers while rubbing with a towel. Sometimes you win, sometimes you don't.
 

Faster horses

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Oldtimer said:
Shortgrass said:
I've had the best luck just putting them in the PU under the heater. Some time ya just have to watch them die. If it isn't a bit tough for ya to experience, something is wrong.

I've warmed a lot up under the PU heater- but last year with the winter/spring we had I ran out of PU space and bought one of the calf warmers that Western Ranch Supply handles...Best investment I ever made- paid for itself with the first calf I stuck in it...

Something I do as soon as I get the calf in the heater is give them a squirt of that Nurse-Mate in their mouth... Seems to give them a little added kick of a quick shot of vitamins and nutrients and usually in a few hours when warmed they are hungry and looking for mom..

We keep a few cans of canned milk on hand to mix up and use for
this same thing. Seems like anything they get in their belly gets them
going and hungry. Canned milk has helped us out lot of times.
 

Northern Rancher

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I like to turn the bulls out so the cows calve when the calves don't freeze up. I winter calved for years the bathtub works good for really chilled calves the rest we used to put in the hotbox for a bit then let them back with cow so they could suck. Calving in warm weather is still my preference.
 

littlejoe

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Faster horses said:
Oldtimer said:
Shortgrass said:
I've had the best luck just putting them in the PU under the heater. Some time ya just have to watch them die. If it isn't a bit tough for ya to experience, something is wrong.

I've warmed a lot up under the PU heater- but last year with the winter/spring we had I ran out of PU space and bought one of the calf warmers that Western Ranch Supply handles...Best investment I ever made- paid for itself with the first calf I stuck in it...

Something I do as soon as I get the calf in the heater is give them a squirt of that Nurse-Mate in their mouth... Seems to give them a little added kick of a quick shot of vitamins and nutrients and usually in a few hours when warmed they are hungry and looking for mom..

We keep a few cans of canned milk on hand to mix up and use for
this same thing. Seems like anything they get in their belly gets them
going and hungry. Canned milk has helped us out lot of times.

Well now, there's an old 'big country' trick of my father in law----always had several thermo's of hot water and some 'canned cow'---dump out enuf water to make room for a can, get it in the little dude, and let him ride around under the heater for a while.

Of the many good resources discussed on this thread---I do happen to know a poem about this one....

Carnation Milk, best in the lan'

Comes to you in a lil' red can.

No tits to pull, no hay to pitch.

Jist punch a hole in the som' bitch!
 

hopalong

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I have used an electric blanket plugged into my inverter on my truck, put them in the shell and cover them, slow and seems to work
 

George

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If you like the electric blanket method go to any large truck stop and get one that is designed for 12 V They work great, never thought of it for calf warming.
 

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