We offer a variety of high-quality products to meet your bovine stomach tube and feeding tube needs. Supplied in sizes suitable for cattle (calves), the tubes were made with special material for easy passage and optimal flexibility.
- A stomach tube is a flexible piece of plastic tubing with a bulbous-shaped end designed to be easily inserted into the esophagus, but not into the lungs. It is usually attached to a plastic container holding the liquid feed.
- There are times you must get fluid into a calf, such as a newborn that needs colostrum or a sick calf that needs fluid and medications orally. If a newborn is unable to nurse, the quickest, safest way to get colostrum into him is by tube.
- For calves, a flexible plastic or nylon tube about four feet long is adequate. It should be about a quarter-inch in diameter.
- Stomach tubes are handy for the administration of fluids or liquid medications, and for treating bloated animals.
- They are also useful if a calf has been eating dirt and plugged up.
Why stomach tube a calf?
The ability to stomach tube a calf is a necessity on any farm dealing with young calves. This process can be used to feed newborn calf colostrum, administer fluids that contain electrolytes, or relieve bloated gas.
- Weak calves may not be able to drink liquids from a teat. Stomach tubing is the best way of ensuring that they consume enough liquid.
- Scouring calves with severe dehydration, that are too weak to drink themselves, can also be stomach tubed.
- It’s also useful if a calf has been eating dirt and plugged up.
How to stomach tube a calf
- The first step in using the stomach tube is to determine the length of the tube to be inserted. This is measured as the distance from the tip of the calf’s nose to the point of its elbow behind the front leg, usually 45 cm or more. This point can be marked on the tube with a piece of tape.
- Ideally, the calf should be standing so the fluids are less likely to back up and enter its lungs. However, calves that are too weak to stand, can be tubed in a sitting position and even while lying down.
- The stomach tube is easier to use when calves are restrained. Young calves can be backed into a corner for better head control.
- If the weather is cold, the tube can be placed in warm water to make it more pliable. The tube should be dipped into a lubricant, such as mineral or vegetable oil.
- Ensure the end of the pipe is not cracked or damaged as this will harm the calf and may cause bleeding.
- A calf’s mouth can be opened by gently squeezing the corner of the mouth or by grabbing its head over the bridge of the nose and gently squeezing the upper palate or gums.
- Once it is opened, the empty tube should be passed slowly along the tongue to the back of the mouth. When the tube is over the back of the tongue, the calf starts chewing and swallowing it, after which the tube is passed down into the esophagus.
- Never force the tube; if it is being correctly put down the esophagus, it should slide in quite easily.
- After the tube is in place and before any fluids are given, it should be checked for proper positioning in the esophagus. If it is properly positioned, the rings of the trachea (leading into the lungs) and the rigid enlarged esophagus can be felt easily.
- If you cannot feel both of these, remove the tube and start again. Remember the “2 tube rule” you should be able to feel the trachea and the stomach tube pipe!!
- When feeding is over, the tube should be slowly removed. The tube should be cleaned and sanitized, then allowed to drain and dry.
Tips to know the tube is in the esophagus
- There are clues to tell if it’s right. If the calf coughs as you try to put the tube on down, it’s in his windpipe. Take it out and start over. If it goes down easily and you meet with no resistance — and it goes in at least two feet or more in a small calf — it’s in the stomach. It can’t go that far in the windpipe because it branches into smaller bronchial tubes.
- You can also check to make sure it’s in the stomach by blowing on your end. If you hear bubbling noises or smell stomach gas coming out, it’s in the stomach. If blowing makes the calf cough, it’s in the windpipe and you must take it out.