Saturday, April 2, 2011

easy does it, part 2

a follow up - once that calf has been delivered there is occasionally the calf that needs colostrum to be given via drencher, or orogastric tube. Or it could be a scouring calf that needs extra fluids and is a bit weak to drink. Many dairy farms(and cow-calf operations in springtime)use these regularly with good success. 

It does require attention and care and I do run into some producers who won't use them out of fear of 'drowning' the calf with a mis-placed tube. That is not unwarranted and much prefer this type of caution to overzealous use(as with the calf pullers)that leads to injury or even death of a calf. 

calves need fluids, and a properly directed calf drencher can help many
The point I try to emphasize is that with careful use, many more calves will be saved than hurt and if you are conscientious about placing the tube, it should be very rare for complications. 

Ask for a demonstration if you would like to be able to use the tubes, or use them with more certainty. With current tubes/drenchers having a 'bulb' at the end most all calves do swallow the bulb into the esophagus, where it should go, of course. I also while introducing the tube rub the roof of the calf's mouth to induce swallowing and aid passage of the tube. Once it begins going down the esophagus, palpate the calf's trachea or windpipe - it will be a very firm 'corrugated pipe' feeling structure in the center of the ventral/underside of neck. As you pass the tube, you will be able to feel the trachea and then the bulb going by, outside of the trachea. If you feel that distinctly, then you know you are NOT within the trachea and are properly in the esophagus. Pass it a bit further and begin feeding the calf. I try to keep them upright, if not standing for the process. Withdraw the tube with flow clamped off after empty and gently remove. 

One note - to make things easier, use a dab of OB lube on the bulb of drencher to aid passage and check it to be sure no 'burrs' develop - they can traumatize the lining of the oral cavity and/or esophagus. Also - these drenchers should be properly cleaned and disinfected - they should last for a number of feedings with proper care, but they are in the end relatively inexpensive and best not to make them vintage 'forever' equipment on the farm.