Recognising the impact of diarrhoea in calves Recognising the impact of diarrhoea in calves

Supporting hydration in case of scours

Calves often arrive at beef farming operations from a variety of places, which causes stress, immunosuppression and exposure to different viruses and bacteria. The result is frequently diarrhoea, a common health issue in young calves, that leads to losses caused by increased mortality or compromised future development and potential.

How to recognise

Digestive disturbances affect calves in a number of ways. Most easy to spot is the increased volume and water content of the faeces. The animal also appears depressed, with low-hanging ears, less appetite, and no eagerness to drink. Ongoing diarrhoea causes sunken eyes, dry muzzle and nose, and low skin turgor. As dehydration progresses, circulation becomes poor, body temperature drops, and the animal becomes less alert and increasingly inactive.

The impact on the farmer

Managing calves with diarrhoea can be an unpleasant task. Additionally, it means shifting time and effort focused on developing and nurturing healthy calves to treating and monitoring ill animals. The total costs can be significant, including higher expenses for veterinary care and additional labour, as well the direct cost of calf loss.

Available, accessible, quality water shouldn’t be upgrades when raising calves, but basic elements.
Araceli Olivares - Global Beef Marketing Specialist

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is drinking water alone not suitable for managing diarrhoea?

Water lacks the right amount and ratio of specific salts and sugars to quickly and effectively remedy rapid dehydration. Additionally, the threat of ongoing metabolic acidosis as a result of dehydration must be corrected with buffering agents and strong mineral rebalancing.

Do you recommend providing oral electrolyte solutions (ORS) via the milk to calves with diarrhoea?

Electrolyte solutions contain relatively high amounts of salts and sugars, requiring enough water ingested with them to achieve the right concentration. Adding electrolytes to the milk results in excessive salt concentration and imbalanced ratios of nutrients. We recommend using only water to make electrolyte solutions.