Friday, December 7, 2012

Scouring Calves and 
Oral Electrolyte Therapy

Dr. Michelle Arnold, U. KY, in their recent Dairy Notes makes these points: (to subscribe go to  )

"In general, when oral fluids are indicated, they should be fed as an extra meal  to calves that have diarrhea. For example, if calves are normally being fed morning and evening, then oral electrolytes can be fed in the middle of the day. If this is not possible, then electrolytes can be fed along with milk (particularly the products that contain acetate or very low concentrations of bicarbonate).

Some experts used to recommend a "rest the gut" approach to calf diarrhea, suggesting that continued milk feeding worsens diarrhea. However, research has shown that milk feeding does not prolong or worsen diarrhea, nor does it speed healing of the intestines. Calves should be maintained on their full milk milk diet plus oral electrolytes when possible. [emphasis added]

If calves are depressed and refuse to suckle, milk can be withheld for one feeding and a hypertonic oral electrolyte product such as Calf-Lyte II HE or Enterolyte HE may be substituted. Milk feeding should always be resumed within 12 hours or blood glucose concentrations will drop too low and the calves get too weak to respond to treatment."

Moral of the story? Keep feeding milk to scouring calves. On a 2X feeding program I often reduced the amount of milk fed (for example, from 3 quarts twice daily to 2.5 quarts twice daily) for scouring calves along with one to two extra feedings of electrolytes. The total fluid intake goal was to get up to 8 to 12 quarts a day depending on the intensity of the diarrhea.

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