Our girl Ruby has a maternal instinct that’s amazing.
She’ll adopt and nurse any calves we bring home.
Calves from the local dairy, who’ve never experienced that cow/calf bond, eagerly attach themselves to her and stay at her side.
The problem is, some of those babies don’t do well with the overflow of milk.
Coming from two to three bottles a day in their calf hutch at the dairy, having all access to an udder-full of milk can overwhelm their systems.
On top of the milk overload, this particular week, we experienced a severe rainstorm leaving us with mud and muck everywhere.
Not a good situation for calves.
Ours developed scours. They went downhill quickly and it was a fight to save their lives.
One calf in particular almost didn’t make it. Jerseys are much more delicate, as calves go, and he had it pretty bad.
We administered LA-200 bovine antibiotic, as well as tubing them several times a day with electrolytes and pectin.
Around-the-clock care is very time intensive and not fun. Especially when the babies don’t perk up like you’d hope.
Finally, after a week and a half, we had them stable.
My husband left on a trip for a couple of days and I was soley in charge.
When he leaves, it seems to be Murphy’s Law that something will go wrong.
Pipes bursting, cars breaking down- you name it, it’s happened.
I was a little worried that the sicker calf might take a turn for the worse.
He did, sort of.
While he was wobbly and weak, he was definitely perkier.
It was extremely hot out, so every hour or so, I’d get him up to move to the shade, over to water or to nurse on Ruby.
Keeping him hydrated was my goal.
Putting my hand to his hips, I’d coax him to keep moving when he wanted to lie down and stay put.
But something was wrong.
His fur under my fingers bunched up like a loose rug and suddenly his skin was showing where fur should have been. I could see his veins.
Horrified, I noticed that he had other patches of fur hanging off of him.
I was sure he was going to die. His fur suddenly had the look of a dead animal.
This calf was going to die on my watch, after my husband had gotten him stable.
Thankfully, the internet came to my rescue.
Apparently, if a calf has had high fevers with scours, they can lose some or all of their fur.
It will grow back.
They just look like zombie calves for a while.
A couple of weeks later, with hair growing back in:
And today, with a nice, healthy coat: