Every vet and farmer knows the frustration involved in trying to feed a non-sucking calf, as acknowledged by Gerard McGovern – a veterinary practitioner – on Instagram recently.
“Most of these calves are bright and lively but just won't suck the cow's teat.”
“A similar syndrome, called 'dummy foal syndrome' occurs in foals.” McGovern outlined.
Work carried out in UC Davis in California, mostly by John Madigan & Monica Aleman, mainly in foals, has resulted in the technique called the 'Madigan squeeze' to help treat these neonates, the vet explained.
“The theory behind the technique is that naturally occurring neurosteroids - produced during pregnancy and which keeps the fetus quiet in the womb ('Foals don't gallop in utero' Madigan) - are not turned off during labour, resulting in a dummy foal.”
“By mimicking the birthing process - by squeezing on the foal/calf's thorax for approximately 30 minutes with a soft rope as shown - the brain is rebooted and with some luck, the calf/foal will be up sucking after the procedure.” the vet concluded.