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Calf Treatment: Saving Lucky La Moo

A photo of Sandy Bates BellAfter caring calf treatment, Lucky La Moo has survived her health crisis and is back to her sweet self. It started almost exactly a month ago, we noticed late one afternoon she was straining while trying to defecate. By that evening a part of her rectum was hanging out. My cowboy was calm, separated her from the herd of misfits and valiantly disinfected her backside area and placed it back in. I could barely sleep that night because I knew there was an underlying condition causing this and that she was going to have a rough time surviving it. By the next morning, she had a prolapsed rectum. It was a horrible sight. I thought she was going to die.

Sandy and Lucky La Moo the calf

Our vet made a barn call and said he had seen this over a hundred times. He even said it was common after weaning (and we had weaned her just a few weeks before). We have weaned four others and never had anything like this happen, but there is always a first for everything. Instead of feeding her for almost 4 1/2 to 5 months, I weaned her at 3 months according to a very famous bovine care book. Another farm lesson learned, don’t always listen to the experts and follow your instincts sometimes.

The vet gave her an epidural (to stop further straining), an antibiotic injection and then corrected the condition with minor surgery and stitches. Her back legs were paralyzed for almost 12 hours. It would be touch and go for the next few weeks while her intestinal illness waged a bacterial war inside her. He told us not to get our hopes up too high.

Sandy bottle feeds Lucky the calf

Lucky’s backside got better but she was dull and seemed to be getting weaker. We fed her milk replacer, scour ease and electrolyte gel but she was just not getting better. We called the vet after two weeks and had him come back out again. He was surprised that she was still alive. He said we must be doing something right as many calves do not survive the intestinal illness and infection. He gave her another round of antibiotics and this really seemed to help her fight off the internal infection.

Cowboy ropes Nandi the bull calf

We did not give up on her either. We made sure that she drank large two bottles of milk replacer mixed with the electrolyte supplement, and that seemed to help keep her energy up. We had her segregated from the rest of her calf friends and her mom at first, but we decided it would be better for her to re-join the herd. We would just have to make the pasture trek to bottle feed every day. My cowboy had to rope Nandi the little bull calf that shares the pasture with her, otherwise he would fight for the bottle. Lucky was finally feeling so much better on Easter that she even came up to watch my Godson’s Easter egg hunt.

Cattle watch Easter egg hunt

Our calf box that we keep stocked with essentials came in handy through this crisis. I highly recommend having an emergency box stocked with powdered colostrum, milk replacer, scour ease and electrolyte gel. I also recommend having wound cleanser, clear iodine, medicine droppers, clean bottles and latex gloves handy. We replenish it every time we make a trip to the tractor supply and feed store. Emergencies tend to happen when everything is closed, and a few hours can mean life or death.

Lucky’s voracious appetite is back, and she is up to her funny antics in the pasture. She has really lived up to her name. We are SO happy to have you back Lucky La Moo! You really are one lucky little calf.

nebraska dave
4/21/2010 2:15:41 PM

Sandy, I remember the many experiences Dad had with animals in my farm teen years. It seemed that something was always in crisis with one species or another. Farm life can be a never ending experience of learning how to care for the creatures that inhabit farm life. I am certainly glad to hear that Lucy La Moo has recovered from a rough start in life. She is a cutie for sure. I always loved the young animals of the farm. It’s just too bad they grow up so fast. I hope all your animal experiences this year turn out just as good as it did with Lucky.


almost country_1
4/20/2010 8:54:27 PM

So happy to hear she's doing better, Sandy! REally, the things that can wrong with livestock make me think twice--and glad that if I ever get to that farm, I'll have a community like this one to turn to for advice! Colleen