Some of the first animals to call Payson High School’s new agricultural building home died over the weekend.
Two Holstein calves less than a week old developed scours and died, said PHS agricultural teacher Jadee Garner. The calves were donated to the school from a feedlot in southern Arizona.
Garner brought the calves to Payson Feb. 15 at which time veterinarian Dr. Drew Justice checked them out.
Several days later, the calves stopped eating and Garner knew they were getting sick. On Friday, Garner put a tarp in the back of her truck and drove the calves to Sierra Vista where she could care for them. The calves developed diarrhea and dehydration and died Saturday night.
Garner believes several factors played into the calves illness including the temperature change from southern and northern Arizona, stress from transport and a change in diet.
“Holsteins are very susceptible to sickness and one issue can cause death easily,” she said.
The calves showed no signs of pneumonia.
Although where the calves were kept in high school’s new agricultural building is not temperature controlled, neither was the location where they came from.
“We provided them with straw, and kept them in together in the same stall so they could huddle together for warmth,” Garner said. “The conditions were probably warmer in the facility than where they came from, which was wide open, exposed to elements and confined in hutches.”
Garner had planned to give one of the calves to a student for a supervised breeding project and keep the other at school.
“Although death is unfortunate, it is a process of life, and yes, we will be trying again,” she said. “Instead of bringing calves up so young, we will raise them in southern Arizona and bring them up when they are older and stronger.
“An unfortunate learning experience, but a process that sometimes we must encounter. We more than likely will encounter more issues as we try more things with animals, but all are used as learning experiences for myself and students in the program.”
PHS is looking at ways to heat the building including using heat lamps and alternative heat sources. Garner is leery of using heat lamps, however, because they can be dangerous if not supervised properly.
With their death, only a steer lives in the Ag building now. Garner has plans to add a horse, lamb or sheep, goats and chickens later this semester.
“My goal is to have the advanced class rotate on animal care and take care of animals that they would not normally have the opportunity to,” she said.