Producers and veterinarians across the Great Plains this week face the heartbreak of fire-related deaths and injuries among their cattle herds. Our previous article, titled “Evaluate Fire-Related Injuries, Disease,” outlines some of the immediate and long-term health considerations for affected cattle.
Following discussions with veterinarians around the state, Kansas State University veterinarians A.J. Tarpoff and Dan Thomson say producers are facing questions on how to manage orphaned calves. “Their mothers may have been lost in the fire, have burned teats and udders that makes nursing extremely painful, or have been separated during the confusion. So we have some options with these calves.” Tarpoff says. Those options include:
1. Foster calves onto other cows that are fit and have lost a calf.
2. Make them into bucket calves if needed.
· Ensure all calves have free choice access to clean water.
· Feed two quarts of milk replacer twice daily until the calf can be weaned. Milk replacer should be at least 20% crude protein and 20% crude fat. Animal proteins are superior to vegetable sources of protein.
· Begin offering calf starter feed after the calves are used to the bucket.
· Feed should be at least 20% crude protein and 10% fat.
· You can wean calves onto the starter feed after calves are eating two to three pounds of feed for two to three days in a row.
Tarpoff and Thomson also recommend closely checking bulls for injury. If their scrotums and genitals have been burned, semen retesting will be needed before they go back to work.