Sunday, April 29, 2012

Better and Better

Number six, or Topsie as she's being called at the moment, is proving to be a bit of a handful. With any other mum, she would probably have been easy to sort out, but because Mairi Clare is such a crabbit old thing, we've had to take rather drastic action.

The problem began when I noticed the calf was suckling her mother's ear tag rather than seeking out the teat. Highlands do this sometimes - fixating on something other than the udder - and if you don't get the calf quickly off the wrong place and onto the right, then you're in trouble. Any of the other cows would probably have let me steer their idiot offspring in the right direction, but not Mairi Clare. Oh no.

Yesterday my brother and I managed to separate mum and calf after about two hours of patient trying. Topsie has had too long suckling at the wrong thing though. When I tried her on a bottle of milk, she just wasn't interested. She's as skinny as a rake, too. Next up is oesophageal tubing, which is as pleasant as it sounds, and which involves very carefully inserting a tube down the poor wee thing's throat and into its stomach. The tube is attached to a bag, filled with lovely yummy milk and collostrum, which is then slowly trickled through until the animal is full. I've seen this done many times, but never tried it myself. The biggest potential problem is getting the tube down the wrong way and filling the calf's lungs up with milk. Not good, usually fatal.

We've brought Topsie down to the farmyard anyway, and if she survives the next few days, she's going to have to be hand reared. At least this should lessen any natural aggressiveness she might have inherited from her mum. Hopefully she'll take more after her dad.

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Blogger terlee said...

Oh, poor wee girl. You would think she would be so hungry by now that the bottle would have been drained dry in a moment. I so hope you don't have to do that tube thing...

In one of my previous incarnations, I had three wee lambs--triplet sisters--that had to be handreared. I don't think I've been so tired in all my days as when I had to bottle feed them.

April 30, 2012 3:36 pm  

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