Provide a balanced and easily digestible diet.

Especially when using milk substitutes: pay attention to the correct mixing ratio!


These focal points increase the calf's resistance to gastrointestinal infections.

The resistance of calves is further increased by optimal nutrition (energy, minerals and vitamins), of the cows during the dry-off period.

The calves are thus born with sufficient reserves.


Pay particular attention to vitamin A, vitamin E and Selenium supply.

I also often see iron deficiencies in calves. (This detected by blood tests).


A mix of moderate to mild deficiencies of multiple minerals and vitamins often makes it difficult to diagnose calves correctly.

Weak, less vital calves with diarrhea, these are often the main complaints.

Therefore, in case of persistent and difficult to treat complaints in calves, also look at the nutrition and nutritional status of the cows.

Not only from the feed ration calculation, but also from the perspective of the individual animal!


Analysis of the blood of a number of cows and heifers for vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, copper, zinc, iodine, cobalt and iron gives a good first indication of the vitamin and mineral supply in the young calves.

This allows appropriate adjustments to be made at an early stage.

Early detection of the problem and adequate treatment of sick calves promotes a quick and successful recovery.

Keep a close eye on calves that drink poorly or struggle to drink and/or calves with excessively smeared hindquarters.



A very important factor in the disease course of calves with diarrhea is dehydration.

Therefore, regularly check the hydration status of calves with diarrhea.

This can easily be done by "pulling up" a skin fold on the calf's neck. 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 visible for a short or longer period of time.

Also, the eyes of these calves are (more or less) sunken into the eye socket.

At a later stage, the calves are dehydrated to the point that they are limp and unable to stand upright.

The chance that such calves will then recover is very small.



In calves where diarrhea is detected early and timely (rehydration) treatment is started, rapid recovery occurs in most cases.

Sometimes antibiotics are needed to control the infection.

Depending on the course of the illness, an infusion may sometimes be necessary.


If the calf is drinking, it is best to let the calf drink small portions several times. 

At least four times a day, (if practicable). More often is even better for the calf!

Allowing drinking through a bucket with a teat gives better results than tube feeding. 

With tube feeding, there is a risk of "overstuffed rumen" and damage to the trachea/esophagus.


Feeding fluids at body temperature prevents further cooling of the calf. 

Thus, the calf does not use extra energy to "warm up" the cold fluid.


Providing only electrolytes for two days is the maximum as far as I am concerned.

Continuing longer with only electrolytes will weaken the calf too much.

In lean/weak calves, I recommend limiting electrolyte feeding even to one day.

Gradually phase out electrolytes and replace them with milk or milk substitutes.

This can be done, for example, by giving the calf electrolytes twice a day and milk or milk substitutes twice a day.


If the calf does not recover quickly, or the condition worsens, consult your veterinarian immediately.

If necessary, he or she can give the calf additional fluids through an IV. This saves many calves.


Administering extra fluids is one thing, controlling the causative pathogen remains a priority, do so in consultation with your veterinarian.

If there is an inflammatory reaction in the gastrointestinal tract, he or she may use anti-inflammatories.

These inhibit the inflammation and may encourage a return to normal intestinal function.

However, their use should be limited to one or at most a few days.

The negative side effects of these drugs on the kidneys and the gastrointestinal mucosa are (too) severe.


Certain products (called gut protectors/"absorbers"), including kaolin and activated charcoal, have an "aesthetic" effect.

This means a firmer consistency of the feces.

In addition, a toxin-binding effect is said to occur in case of bacterial infection.