Here we have a nice red heifer calf only eight days old. I know exactly how old this calf is, because I watch her being born. Her mother has passed away. The cow was sick and weak for two months right in the middle of winter. I found her unable to stand on her feet, just lying on her side not able to get up by herself. So I tailed the cow up, which means lifting up on her tail with both hands giving the cow a boost up. First on her back legs then the cow gets up on her front feet while I am still holding her tail.
The cow was heavy from being pregnant, and also weak from being sick, so I placed her in a pen by herself. Twice a day I would go and check on her, bring her feed and water, and tailing her on her feet. I was hoping that once this calf is born, that she will be able to get up on her own, get better, and raise her calf. The cow had no trouble having the calf.
First few days went well, cow got up, calf nursed its mother, but then the cow went down again. This time the cow would be unable to stand up any more, and passed away the next day.
Now with the mother gone, this just left the calf, me, and a bottle of milk replacer. The calf having nursed its mother for the first seven days of its life doesn’t want anything to do with me, or this different tasting new milk. So here I go, run the calf in the corner of the pen, stand over it, back its butt up against the fence, and stick the nipple of the bottle in her mouth. This heifer spits out the nipple and fights with the bottle, while I try my best to stay calm.
For twice a day, morning and evening , I go through this process, using half a bottle of milk replacer, mainly because its half the weight and easier to manage. I place the nipple in the calf’s mouth, let a some milk full the back of her mouth while gently hold her head up, then with the other hand I place my thumb on back of the calf’s tongue and make her swallow the milk. I am always very careful not to get my thumb in between her back teeth.
Wishing the whole time “Come on and nurse this bottle already!” for three days. Then on the mourning of the fourth day, I go out, back the calf in the corner of the pen, stand over it, and place the nipple in her mouth. The calf sucks the nipple of the bottle. I can’t believe it; finely this heifer is nursing the bottle. For the next few feedings, the calf strips off the nipple and I have to place it back in her mouth. Soon the calf is chasing me down, and I can’t get out of pen fast enough when the bottle is empty. The calf punches my legs, circling in front of me to stop me for more milk, just like I was her mother.