Gatorade for Calves

Home Remedy for Calf Scours

There are few things worse at calving time than the dreaded “calf scour outbreak”. While prevention is key in managing the health of young calves, there will likely be times when you need to rehydrate a calf.

Below is an excellent excerpt from an article which tells you how in an emergency you can make your own electrolyte remedy for calf scours with ingredients often found in your household.
“Although making your own oral rehydration solution for calves can be relatively simple if all the ingredients are available, it is easier to buy one that is already made up correctly. If you are in a bind and need to make your own, remember not to use table sugar for the glucose portion of it. Table sugar, or sucrose, is a carbohydrate that cannot be metabolized by cattle because they do not have the enzyme to break it down. Adding sucrose may actually increase scouring and worsen dehydration.

Feeding calves plain water does not work either when the calf is infected with a virus or bacteria that have affected absorption in the intestine. Water “follows” sodium into the intestine and therefore, both sodium and glucose need to be present for maximal water absorption. It is always best to have an oral rehydration solution on hand to treat scouring calves.”

Homemade example for an oral rehydration solution for calf scours from “Feeding the Newborn Dairy Calf” (1984):

1 tsp. low sodium salt

2 tsp. baking soda

1 ¾ oz. (1 packet) fruit pectin

1 can beef consommé

Add water to make 2 quarts. Feed at the rate of 1 pint per 10 pounds of bodyweight 3 to 4 times a day. Feed milk 2 to 3 hours before or after due to bicarbonate content.

Most resources show that pre-made electrolytes are likely your best option for treating calves with scours. One thing to note is that not all electrolytes are rated for treating calves with diarrhea. Products should state in their indications section of the label that they are intended to replace the salts and water that are lost in calves with diarrhea.

Here is a link to help you decide on which electrolytes in Canada are indicated for use inscouring calves. Of course there is nothing better than calling your veterinarian or asking their treatment advice, especially if you have multiple instances of scours during your calving season.

Do you have other resources, advice or personal experience to share on treating calf scours?