Provide a balanced and easily digestible diet.
Especially when using milk replacer: pay attention to the correct mixing ratio!
These points of attention increase the calf's resistance to gastrointestinal infections. The calves' resistance is further increased by an optimal nutrition (energy, minerals and vitamins) of the cows during the dry period. Calves are then born with sufficient reserves.
Pay special attention to the vitamin A, vitamin E and Selenium supply.
I also often see iron deficiencies in calves in practice. (via blood test).
A mixture of moderate to mild deficiencies in multiple minerals and vitamins often makes it difficult to make the correct diagnosis in calves.
Weak, less vital calves with diarrhea, these are often the main complaints.
Therefore, in case of lingering and difficult-to-treat complaints in calves, also look at the feeding and nutritional status of the cows.
Not only from the ration calculation, but also from the individual animal.
Analysis of the blood of a number of cows and heifers with regard to vitamin A, vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Iodine, Cobalt and Iron provides a good initial indication of the vitamin and mineral supply in the young calves. In this way, correct adjustments can be made at an early stage.
Early detection of the problem and adequate treatment of sick calves promotes a quick and successful recovery.
Closely monitor calves that drink poorly or with difficulty and / or calves with excessively smeared hindquarters.
A very important factor in the disease course of calves with diarrhea problems is dehydration.
Therefore, regularly check the hydration status of calves affected by diarrhea. This can easily be done by "pulling up" a fold of skin in the neck of the calf. When you release the skin fold, the skin should immediately return to its original starting position.
In calves with dehydration symptoms, the skin fold remains for a short or longer time. The eyes of these calves have also sunk (more or less) into the eye socket.
At a later stage the calves are dehydrated to such an extent that they are limp and can no longer stand upright. The chance that such calves will heal is then very small.
In calves where the diarrhea is detected in time, and a (rehydration) treatment is started on time, a speedy recovery occurs in most cases.
Sometimes antibiotic administration is necessary to control infection.
Depending on the course of the disease, an infusion is given or the calf is allowed to drink. When drinking, it is best to provide the liquid in several small amounts. At least four times a day, but that must of course also be feasible in practice. (more frequent is even better for the calf!).
Drinking through a teat bucket or bucket gives better results than tube feeding. With tube feeding there is a risk of "rumen overfilling" and damage to the trachea / esophagus.
Feeding fluids at body temperature prevents further cooling of the calf. The calf then does not have to use extra energy to 'warm up' the cold liquid.
Providing only electrolytes for two days is the maximum for me. Continuing with only electrolytes for longer will weaken the calf too much.
In lean / limp calves I would even limit the supply of electrolytes to one day.
Proceed gradually on the return of electrolytes to milk. This can be done, for example, by giving the calf a drink with electrolytes twice a day and milk twice a day.
If the calf does not recover quickly, or if its condition deteriorates, consult your veterinarian immediately. If necessary, he/she can give the calf extra fluids through an infusion. This saves many calves.
Adding extra fluids is one thing, fighting the causative pathogen remains a priority, do this in consultation with your vet.
In case of an inflammatory reaction in the gastrointestinal tract, he / she can use anti-inflammatory agents if necessary. These inhibit inflammation and can stimulate the return to normal bowel function. However, its use should be limited to one or a few days at the most. The negative side effects that these drugs have on kidneys and the stomach and intestinal mucosa are (too) high.
Certain products (so-called intestinal protectants / absorbers), including kaolin and activated charcoal, have an "aesthetic" effect.
This means that the manure is then bound more. In addition, a toxin binding effect would occur in bacterial infections.