The cost of calf scours

Calf scours is an expensive and time-consuming disease which strikes at the busiest time of the year. Costs incurred involve not only treatment expenses and calf losses but also precious time costs and reduced live weight gains.

The mainstay of preventing calf scours is careful colostrum management and good hygiene and feeding practices. Ensuring calves get their full allowance of colostrum is the vital key to scour prevention with a focus on the three Q’s being followed:

  • Quantity – 10% of body weight (split over two feeds usually to prevent overfeeding)
  • Quality – only top-quality colostrum (heifers and old cows often have poorer colostrum as measured using a refractometer)
  • Quickly – ideally the colostrum volume should be given within 6 hours of birth

However, even the best-laid plans can go awry and when calf scours hits, the most valuable tool to overcoming it is a thorough electrolyte therapy protocol. Most calf scours infections are viral (Rotavirus, Coronavirus) and/or Cryptosporidium and are self-limiting. The upset in the intestines caused by infection leads to the release of acids into the bloodstream and acidosis. This acidosis causes the clinical signs of depressed calves which struggle to stand and are too weak to suckle. The downward spiral of dehydration, starvation and acidosis continues until the calf succumbs.

The best electrolyte formulas will correct this acidosis as quickly as possible and get the calf back on its feet and drinking milk, as well as correcting electrolyte imbalances and dehydration. Making sure the calf gets back on milk to keep its energy levels up is essential due to the vital role energy plays in the body’s immune response and therefore speed of recovery.

Unfortunately, not all electrolytes are created equal and can vary greatly in their ability to address the needs of the scouring calf. No formula will match milk in meeting a growing calf’s demand for energy, proteins and fats for growth and repair of damaged intestine. Using research from New Zealand and abroad, we have developed an electrolyte product which we think is the best on the market for reversing acidosis and getting calves back drinking milk as soon as possible. It is called Totally Hydrated and is available from all Totally Vets and Tararua Vets clinics and online.

Totally HydratedTotally Hydrated has excellent buffering capacity against acidosis and it also has the added bonus of being able to be mixed in milk at a half dose, without interfering with milk digestion. It can also be added to milk replacer, as long as the milk replacer is mixed at the manufacturer’s recommended rate. This is great for calves with mild scours which are still drinking their full allowance of milk. If the calf doesn’t drink the full amount, simply mix one full dose in warm water and stomach tube the calf.

As it doesn’t interfere with milk digestion, it is the perfect electrolyte for use in beef calves which are still on the cow. The calf can receive a highly effective dose of electrolytes by stomach tube and then go back to the cow, without any risk of affecting nutritional intake.

The other great feature of Totally Hydrated is its price*:

  • To add to water for bottle or tube feeding, a full dose costs $3.40
  • To add to milk in a feeder, a half dose costs $1.70

We think you will love the performance and value for money of Totally Hydrated!
For more information or to discuss any calf scour issues you might be having, pop into your local clinic.

* Please note that the price is as at September 2020 and is subject to change without notification.

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