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Senior Advisor

First Calf Crop

I've got a question, not really the proper forum to post this in, but thought it might get good response. Those of you who know of my operation, know I don't have any livestock at this time. When my folks sold out, my 14 year old nephew ( who lives on a farm and is 100% farmboy) wanted to start a small herd, so his grandpa gave him 10 heifers. Kind of a jump start if you will. Well this morning he lost his first calf and feels that he has let his late Grandpa down. How do we keep this kid encouraged?

From what I was told, he did everything correct. Ran her in the barn last night, set his alarm and checked on her every 2.5 hours. When he went out at 0530, the calf had been born, but already dead.
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27 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: First Calf Crop

He should just get a camera for the barn. He can check them easy when ever he wants to. Tell him if he's gonna have livestock he's gonna have dead stock. That's the way it is. Too bad he lost the first one out of the chute though.
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Veteran Contributor

Re: First Calf Crop

That's a tough way to get started.  He has our sympathies.  You're dealing with living animals, and anything can and eventually will happen.  We've been at it all my life, and we still lose a calf occasionally.  Seems like just when you think you've got them figured out they come up with some new and innovative way to do themselves in.  Tell your nephew to keep trying.  He's doing everything right, but he's dealing with all heifers, and they're bound to have more trouble.  One proven trick to help him get more rest at night is to start giving them grain in the evening.  They can have hay round the clock, but feeding grain in the evening tends to cause them to calve during the daytime.  Don't laugh, there's research to prove it, as well as our experience.  If he doesn't have scours vaccine on hand, make sure he gets both viral and bacterial scours vaccine ASAP.  The calves need it as soon as possible after birth.  Some powdered colustrum mix and calf milk replacer mix should also be available.  Again, he's dealing with heifers that haven't nursed a calf before.  Combine that with a calf that hasn't nursed and you've got double trouble.

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Senior Advisor

Re: First Calf Crop

Good idea on the cameras Bug, I'll let him know. Yep, I told him the same thing. Dad lost a few that he should have saved & saved a few that probably should have been lost. All part of the business. Tough pill to swallow right out of the gate though. Appreciate your input.
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Senior Advisor

Re: First Calf Crop

Thanks hardway, I'll also pass him that info. I know he has a lot of meds on hand, I'll quiz him on the powdered milk substitute as well as the graining in the evening. Thanks again. We're all pulling for him, he's carrying the family legacy at this time.
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Veteran Contributor

Re: First Calf Crop

Sometimes calves don't know where to suck.  We had a calf last spring that insisted on sucking on her mother's brisket.  We kept her going on a bottle, but she wouldn't give up the brisket.  My wife came up with the idea of getting some cayenne pepper hot sauce.  We put it in a cheap squirt bottle from the dollar store.  A couple of squirts on the brisket cured the calf of sucking there in short order!  We just kept bottle-feeding her and steering her to the teats, and kept her and the cow penned up together.  Finally she got the message.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: First Calf Crop

Lost one from 1st calf heifer with the same circumstances with everything OK at 8pm and went out 2 hours later and had a dead one without calving problems  - unfortunately a guy will have an unexpected loss without good reason and a remote camera could be very useful while checking from the recliner ---keep on keeping on ---

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Senior Contributor

Its good he is upset

I think this guy has a chance, if he is upset and cares about the well being of his animals, he will probably be very good at this whole cow herd thing. The guys who piss me off are the so called tough bastards that don't give a **bleep**, heifers can be so dang tricky, one thing I wonder about is if this calf was stillborn, were these heifers vaccinated with any lepto.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Its good he is upset

I don't know their history. I know he has kept in close touch with the vet through the first year process. All these heifers we AI'd by the same vet, but what other procedures that were performed, I have no idea. I'm waiting for my phone to beep any time now for him to tell me he has had a successful birth. His mom said the hard part now is getting him to school.
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Senior Contributor

Re: Its good he is upset

The kid is probably going to have to quit school until calving is over. Run that by him, Shaggy, see what he thinks. BTW the graining heifers to make them calve in the daylight is a good idea but with him in school somebody is gonna have to be available to check them. It is impressive he's willing to get his butt out of bed to check heifers at night. Not many kids would do that. I'd say there's a pretty good chance he'll make a cowman.
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