Despite your best prevention efforts, a certain percentage of calves can be expected to develop scours. The critical step to combating scours and related symptoms is fluid replacement.

The use of oral rehydration solutions (ORS) can be a beneficial therapy says Richard Randle, extension veterinarian at the University of Missouri. When administering fluid solutions re-introduce milk as soon as possible to avoid excessive weight loss. However, bicarbonate solutions interspersed between milk feeding can result in poor digestibility of the milk and result in continued diarrhea. If calves are not taken off milk during the time fluids are being administered, Dr. Randle recommends using a non-bicarbonate containing solution.

"Despite the success of oral rehydration solutions, calves with 8 percent or greater dehydration are considered beyond the level where oral therapy will suffice," says Dr. Randle. "In these situations, intravenous or subcutaneous therapy may be necessary to prevent death."

How do you assess the degree of dehydration? The table at the left provides some guidelines for estimating the degree of dehydration in your cattle.