The main cause of death in calves younger than 14 days old is dehydration due to scours.
During 2006, scours, diarrhea, or other digestive problems accounted for the majority of pre-weaned heifer deaths. Severe water loss or dehydration is usually the cause of death.
The newborn calf is born as a monogastric (single-stomached) animal with the abomasum as the only functional stomach. Once a calf drinks milk or milk replacer, the pH increases from 1.5 to 6 within 15 minutes of feeding. When the pH of the stomach is above 4, it can allow pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella to pass through the stomach intact and cause disease in the intestine of a calf.
WATER LOSS FROM SCOURS
Water loss results when young calves get scours caused by many sources, including infectious and noninfectious agents, and increased stress. Supporting a healthy gut to prevent water loss is important for maintaining healthy calves and dealing with scours.
THE SEVERITY OF DEHYDRATION CAN BE EASILY EVALUATED AS FOLLOWS:
• SLIGHT: Pinch a flap of skin on the calf’s neck. See if it “tents” for 4 seconds or less.
• MODERATE: Skin “tenting” for 5 seconds or more, calf may be lying down and appears dull.
• SEVERE: Calf needs IV fluids, lying down and unresponsive.
Any noticeable water loss should prompt a call to your veterinarian.
Feeding good quality colostrum, excellent hygiene and husbandry during the neonatal period are fundamental to calf health.
Non-prescription oral electrolytes are the traditional approach for dehydration resulting from scours. It is a good idea to keep feeding milk to provide enough energy to the animal. Intravenous fluid therapy can be used for the most severe cases.
The cost of care and elevated risk of calf mortality from scours has a direct impact on producers like you. Neonorm™ Calf uses Croton lechleri, a botanical extract, to inhibit water loss at the cellular level directly in the gut. It can help promote natural stool formation and reduce fluid loss when caring for your neonatal calves. Neonorm™ Calf may be used along with electrolytes if the calf is dehydrated, as supportive care is vital.
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