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    Taking Care of Bottle Fed Livestock

    If you raise livestock, you likely have encountered an orphaned animal at some point, or perhaps you’ve chosen to bottle raise yours. Whether it’s planned or not, being prepared with the right supplies and facilities to provide for the needs of your bottle babies is essential to getting them off to a healthy start.

    Here are some essentials you should not overlook:

    Cleanliness is Critical

    The immature immune system of young animals leaves them vulnerable to diseases that adult animals often carry without getting sick. Minimize contact between bottle babies and adults, preferably until after they are weaned from milk replacer.

    Keep young animals clean and dry by providing a sturdy, draft-free shelter with plenty of bedding, and clean it regularly.

    Scrub and sanitize bottles, nipples, and buckets after each feeding. Clean clothing and boots after handling sick animals to minimize spread of disease.

    Colostrum

    It’s the first milk from the mother after birth, and is rich in essential nutrients and antibodies that help protect the newborn from disease. If you are not certain that your baby animal received colostrum, feed a suitable substitute for the first day or two after he arrives at your farm.

    Fresh colostrum from the same species is ideal, but not required (many of the antibodies are similar between species).

    Powdered colostrum supplements, such as DuMOR® brand, don’t require refrigeration, mix easily, are nutritionally complete, and are handy to keep on hand for when they are needed.

    Milk Replacer

    This will be the main source of nutrition for the first several weeks, so it’s not a good idea to skimp here.

    Pick a milk replacer specific to your animal species if you can, or use a high-quality, multi-purpose formula, preferably one with only milk proteins (they are more digestible than vegetable proteins like soy and wheat).

    Always make sure your animal’s species is listed on the label, so you can be sure the product meets his nutritional needs. Follow the label directions carefully and monitor your animal’s growth and health. Every DuMOR Milk Replacer has detailed feeding directions and animal management tips on the bag.

    Dealing with Scours

    Diarrhea is the single biggest problem in nursing livestock, and the dehydration that results from it can kill a baby animal quickly. Some of the causes include diseases, feeding poor quality or the wrong milk replacer, sudden feed changes, an irregular feeding schedule, and stress.

    We can’t always prevent scours but can minimize it with good sanitation, careful milk replacer selection, and a routine feeding schedule.

    When scours does strike, quickly begin giving oral electrolytes solution, which is a powdered supplement mixed with water. DuMOR Electrolytes Supplement, for example, is a balanced electrolyte formula for most livestock and pets. Feed electrolytes in a separate bottle from milk replacer, so your animal gets the extra fluids he needs to replace those lost in diarrhea.

    For dairy and beef calves, medicated milk replacers are also available to treat bacterial causes of scours. If your animal does not improve within a few days or if he appears weak or dehydrated, it’s best to call the vet. The first few weeks of life are a critical time for young livestock, and you only get one chance to get it right.

    Do your homework so you are prepared to deal with health concerns before the need arises.