Click here to view as a pdf: Electrolyte Use
By Kelly Hubert, B.S.
Electrolytes are an important tool to use when supporting scouring and dehydrated calves. Scours are the leading cause of death in young calves, primarily because scours cause calves to rapidly dehydrate. It is important to monitor calves daily and treat them quickly when needed. A calf needs to receive 10% of its body weight in fluids each day for maintenance, while a growing calf will require even more1. Scouring calves need the calories from milk feedings as well as the extra fluids and nutrition that electrolytes provide. Electrolytes should be fed between the normal milk feedings. Mixing milk and electrolytes together interferes with the clotting mechanism of the milk and is not recommended1. It is best to start with a higher feeding rate of electrolytes and reduce it as the calf’s condition improves. If a calf is not drinking on its own, the use of an esophageal feeder may be required.