Scours & Dehydration

Scours refers to watery diarrhea in production animals, including dairy and beef calves, which results from infectious agents that cause the secretion of ions and water into the intestinal lumen.

Animals with scours may experience severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can lead to renal insufficiency, nutritional deficiencies, lower production in dairy cattle and even death. Current treatments include fluid and electrolyte replacement, continuous milk feeding, antibiotics (for calves with systemic involvement (e.g., fever) with an increased risk of bacteremia), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy and vaccines.

According to the Dairy 2007 study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, or USDA, almost one in four preweaned dairy heifer, or female, calves suffers from diarrhea or other digestive problems. The preweaning period is generally the first 60 days after birth.

Scours, diarrhea or other digestive problems are responsible for more than half of all preweaned heifer calf deaths, and result in supportive care and treatment costs, impaired weight gain and long-term reduction in milk production.

Of dairy farm operations surveyed in the Dairy 2007 study, 62.1% used antibiotics for diarrhea or other digestive problems, including preweaned heifer calves not reporting diseases or disorders. Of preweaned heifer calves that were affected by diarrhea or other digestive problems, almost three-fourths, or 74.5%, were treated with an antibiotic.

Solution for Dairy and Beef Farmers

Dehydration from scours, diarrhea, or other digestive problems poses a significant threat to the health and future productivity of newborn calves, and significantly increases the expenses and labor required to care for the animals. A differentiating feature of Neonorm Calf is that it can help calves retain fluids quickly enough to avoid severe dehydration—the ultimate goal in managing scours. Neonorm Calf helps dairies and beef farms proactively retain fluid in calves—helping the animals avoid debilitating, dangerous levels of dehydration.

Scours-associated financial losses to the dairy industry arise not only from dairy calf mortality and impaired growth, but also from costs associated with veterinary care, medications and incremental labor to treat the sick dairy calves. The lifetime productivity for dairy cattle is influenced by early development and weight gain. Dairy calves with impaired preweaned growth may produce less milk over their lifetime. We believe our results demonstrate that the use of Neonorm Calf can improve the economic return to dairy producers.

Dairy 2007 study, United States Department of Agriculture
Dairy 2007 study, United States Department of Agriculture