Feed Slow

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    • #2484

      Calves are designed to eat slow, perhaps frustratingly slow for us humans, but this is important.

      Think about the normal situation with momma cow. The milk flow from a cow is quite slow. Only a small stream can come out. This is good for the calf.

      When the flow is too strong, the calf can actually inhale some of the milk  as it flows inside. They are sucking, and sucking hard, like through a straw. Their anatomy lets the milk exist into the stomach before it gets to the lung, only if the flow is small enough. Add too much milk too soon and the milk bypasses the stomach into the lungs.

      Calf nipples are designed to support this. They have a properly sized hold and air bleed to limit the flow. Do NOT modify the nipple in any way!  any changes can increase the flow beyond what a calf can handle with dire consequences. Resist the temptation to cut the nipple just a bit wider to make feeding go faster.

      How do you know it;s working properly? Here are some tips:

      1. Frothing milk at their mouth. Calves should make a mess! This is normal and healthy. Frothy bubbly milk all over the lips is what you want! this means they are sucking well and getting milk at a proper rate.
      2. Air bubbles flowing inside the bottle as they drink. There should be a fairly steady stream of bubbles streaming from the nipple inside the bottle. This means the air hole is working properly and the milk is just hard enough to pull out. If there are no air bubbles, this means the milk is not coming out properly.  Either the bottle will collapse under the vacuum or the nipple will close off. Often the lid is on too tight or the air hole is plugged. Make a habit of tightening the lid just until the dripping stops with an inverted bottle, and no more.
      3. Time it. It should take several minutes to empty a bottle. If the time is unusually long, something it wrong. If it is shorter than normal, something is wrong.

      Proper feeding is vital to the health of your calf. Use these simple tips to ensure that all is well!

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