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Raising Dorothy, a Bottle-Fed Elk Calf
Part 3: Another Calf

By Patsy Davis Dyar
Mad Hatter Ranch

Dorothy and I spent her first night with me sleeping on the floor next to her in a sleeping bag, feeding her small amounts of colostrum every 3 or 4 hours. By morning there was no doubt in her mind that I was her mother. I put her outside in the fenced backyard so she could eat a little good dirt. Strangely enough, this seems to firm up the stool and help with digestion.

Just when things were on track with Dorothy, another cow needed assistance. At 1 PM, we pulled "Elvis". His mother, a heifer, did not "mother up" to him after several hours. We tried to get Dorothy's mother to adopt him with no luck. The poor guy was really doing his best to get adopted too! After almost 6 hours, I took him. Though he sucked down 20 oz of colostrum his first meal, he was very afraid. It was not until the next morning, after spending another night in the nursery, that he began to settle down. At first there was little to no interaction between the two calves. Elvis was afraid of everything. Since it was bad weather, I left both calves inside and spent as much time with them as possible. By the next day they were best buddies.

Though I was less than enthusiastic about raising a bull calf, it has been my experience that bottle babies do MUCH better when they have elk company. There is competition at the feeder and someone to play with. Dorothy seemed very happy to have this new friend. Both elk were moved outside to the backyard permanently!

After four days Dorothy was just beginning to get on her feet. We made her a splint out of PVC, quilting and horse wrap so that she could stand without going over on her fetlock. This worked really well, and for the first time she was able to run and play and stand for her meals.

Patsy will share her feed formula and tips about amounts and keeping notes in the next installment. Check back soon. To ask questions about calving elk or to share your experiences, join in the wapiti forum.

Part 2 | Part 4


 

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