Using a Tube Feeder - Carefully
There are a number of reasons that we would use a tube feeder for a newborn calf. Regardless of the reason every time for every calf the feeder should be used properly.
I observed the birth of a calf. The calf care person checked to see that the calf was breathing well. Off he went to get colostrum - the cow got up and started licking off the calf.
I came by a bit later and the same person was feeding colostrum to the calf using an esophageal tube feeder. I did not watch the feeding tube put into the calf. I did notice that the colostrum was being fed while the calf was lying on her side with the worker holding up her head. As the bag reached nearly empty the tube was removed from the calf - colostrum was still running out of the end.
Before leaving the dairy I had a talk with the owner about the need to train and retrain calf care personnel. Workers that use a tube feeder need to be trained to do it right. For example, in this case if calves are not standing they should always be up on their belly (sternal position) for tube feeding. Further, no fluid should be going through the tube either when passed into the calf or when being removed.
I used his compute to access the resource, "Colostrum: 4 Rules for Tube Feeding."
- Use a clean tube feeder.
- Feed body temperature colostrum.
- Always keep colostrum out of the tube when inserting it into the esophagus.
- Always allow all colostrum to drain from the tube before removing it from the calf.
The full resource may be found by clicking HERE