Amos really does seem healthy for the most part. He still doesn't poop without stimulation, and even though he is gaining weight, he isn't growing as tall as he should. But, otherwise he's full of energy! He's so hungry that after he's finished his bottle he goes into a panic! He knocks his pen over and sucks on anything he can get his mouth on...usually my hand!
He's so hungry that we decide to switch to powdered milk because it has electrolytes in it. He does well on it for a couple of days, but as soon as we increase the amount, he gets diarrhea. By the end of the day, it is bloody. So, we switch back to regular milk. All calves are hungry little buggers, but Amos is still more hungry than he should be. We slowly increase his milk to a full bottle for his first feeding and 3/4 of a bottle for the other two feedings. But as soon as we increase it, he gets diarrhea again. I'm beginning to feel like we're never going to find a good way to feed him! Its so hard to find what's right for his system. On one hand, he shouldn't even be born yet. His system isn't developed enough for food or milk. On the other hand, he's been drinking milk for nearly 6 weeks, and the milk isn't enough to hold him any more. Its such a roller coaster ride with him! A game of trial and error. But, even with the diarrhea, Amos is still full of life! This video was taken the day we were trying the powdered milk:
Ed says we have to start him on feed. I'm so afraid to try feed because of the aspiration problem. He says that we have to get him started drinking out of a bucket too. He'll eat better if he is no longer on the bottle, so I go to Tractor Supply and buy some buckets. We tried to give Amos some feed, and put his milk in a bucket. Lets just say, it didn't go over so well! He absolutely hated it! After we tried to feed him the starter feed, he was so angry that he ignored me the rest of the night:
Later that evening, I tried to give him his milk in a bucket. He didn't like that very much either. I think my entire breezeway floor was covered with milk! I hoped we had the right solution to Amos' eating problems, but when while he was drinking out of the bucket, he did that aspirating thing again. He abruptly stops eating. His breathing becomes really shallow, kind of panting and tries to cough. His heart is racing, his tongue hangs out and he's in a daze. He stumbles a little, and just stands there for a few minutes. It was really bad this time. Then, he comes out of it and seems fine. Its so disturbing to watch and so upsetting because I can't seem to help him while its happening. I pat his sides, rub his throat and usually cry! The next morning I call the vet (again!). He asks me to describe Amos' episodes (again!). He says that even though it looks like he's aspirating, he's not. If he was breathing milk into his lungs, his breathing wouldn't return to normal afterwards. That's the good news. The bad news is that Amos is most likely choking. He said that from a neurological perspective, the nerves, muscles, etc of his esophagus are probably still not well-developed so when he drinks milk too fast, it gets stuck in his throat. I also spoke with Dr. Jud Heinrich, who is the head of the Dairy Nutrition program at Penn State University. He said that even though he told us not to wean Amos too soon, he agrees with Ed and the vet that we need to start him on feed. He agreed with giving Amos his milk out of a bucket, too. I guess that will help him to develop those esophagus muscles better, too. He also said that the fact that Amos weighed 53 lbs was amazing! Healthy calves are doing great if they double their weight by 6 weeks, and Amos has passed that right up! Dr Heinrich also said not to use the powdered milk because Amos won't develop his cud. He'll need whole cow's milk to do this. He said that Amos really is a miracle! He told me to make sure I take lots of pictures and document this experience well, because its a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I assured him we already knew that!!!!
Amos really doesn't like drinking out of a bucket, but after several days, he gets better at it. He still tries to suck my fingers, and still gets really mad when the milk runs out!
Amos is getting more inquisitive, too. He is interested in anything he can get his mouth on! He tries to chew on everything! He seems to be a very happy bull! He runs and bounces around. He gets into trouble, too!
Well, Ed tried giving Amos some of the feed he makes here at the farm, because its flakier. It seems like an easier texture for Amos to eat. He still doesn't like it, but eats it better than the starter feed. And, we continue to give Amos his milk in a bucket. We now have to figure out something different for a pen, since he clearly only stays in this one when he wants to! I think he was staying in it just to humor me all along! Next time, I'll show you his new pen...and some of Amos' friends. In the mean time: