Calf scour accounts for 50% of calf deaths and is a costly problem in the rearing process. Losses from calf scour can mean decreased live weight gain which can lead to the heifer being older at its first serving/calving which delays profitability. If the cow is older than 28 months at the first calving, this can present difficulties in calving. Furthermore, calves suffering from scour are more susceptible to other diseases. Labour costs, veterinary costs and lower morale on the farm are all consequences of calf scour to be avoided.
CAUSES of calf scour
Calf Scour can be caused by challenges such as:
- Poor colostrum intake
- Environmental stress
- Poor hygiene
- Other diseases
- A build-up of harmful micro-organisms throughout the calving period
THE EFFECTS OF SCOUR ON THE CALF
When a calf has scour, dehydration, electrolyte loss and gut damage are likely to result. Dehydration causes decreased tissue perfusion and kidney activity which can prove fatal, while electrolyte loss can affect the pH balance in the blood, causing acidosis. Together, dehydration and electrolyte loss can result in death if appropriate treatment is not administered. Damage to the gut villi can also occur which can have an impact on the calf’s growth rate later in life.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECT TREATMENT OF SCOUR
When choosing a treatment for scour, it is important that the product you will use to treat scour not only rehydrates but corrects acidosis and replaces electrolytes. Teagasc advises proper calf recovery requires acidosis correction and because of this, new EU legislation has been introduced. EU regulation No. 1123/2014 requires all scour treatments to have a Strong Ion Difference (SID) of at least 60mmol/litre which ensures that blood pH and base excess are restored with 12-18 hours, thus helping calves to make a full recovery.
SCOURS AND MILK CLOTTING
Milk needs to clot in the calf’s stomach to allow for initial digestion of protein. If milk does not clot, it rapidly flows through the stomach which results in a missed opportunity for protein digestion.
Some alkali solutions affect the clotting of milk in the calf’s stomach, such as solutions containing bicarbonate and citrate and so should not be added to milk. Glucose can also affect milk clotting and exacerbate diarrhoea through the osmotic effect. Since large amounts of glucose are required to provide a calf with the energy it needs, caution should be taken when choosing a scour treatment with high levels of glucose as this may make the problem worse.
KEEPING THE CALF ON MILK
Research has shown that keeping a calf on milk is beneficial as milk has 50g/l of lactose (energy) which helps the calf to continue gaining weight. Milk also has immunoglobulins and helps to repair the gut, it is antimicrobial, palatable and maintains the correct abomasal pH. Allowing suckling eliminates the stress caused by separating the calf from its mother in suckler herds.
WHY CHOOSE REHYDION GEL?
- Rehydion has a high level of SID, 75mmol/l, which exceeds the minimum requirement for more efficacy, using a sensible amount of product to correct acidiosis.
- Rehydion does not use bicarbonate which is known to interfere with milk clotting. Rehydion uses diacetate which will not interfere with milk clotting.
- Diacetate in Rehydion helps dehydration by stimulating water absorption through the gut.
- Rehydion does not contain glucose, meaning there is no risk of further diarrhoea from excess glucose, or interference with milk clotting.
- With Rehydion, you do not need to take calf off the cow as it can be used neat and administered to the calf easily.
- Rehydion can be added to milk
- Rehydion is time-saving and convenient
- One bottle of Rehydion contains 320ml which is enough for 8 calf feeds or 160 feeds for lambs. The distinctive yellow top also acts as a handy measuring cap.