Dehydration in Calves


Dehydration can cause welfare issues to arise especially in young animals that are stressed, being transported and have diarrhoea. In these circumstances the animal can lose condition, reduce feed intake and be susceptible to secondary infections. 1 in 7 dairy calves and 1 in 13 beef calves die in the rearing phase over the first 6 months of life (NADIS).

Calves that are dehydrated and scouring may lose up to 10% of their body weight a day. In severe cases, that are left untreated this can lead to death. Almost 50% of calf deaths during the first few weeks are due to scouring (NADIS).

Signs of dehydration

5-6% No clinical signs, diarrhoea
6-8% Sunken eyes, weak with mild depression
8-10% Dry gums, laying down and depressed
10-14% Cold ears & legs, will not stand
Over 14% Death

Adapted from J.M. Naylor, Can. Vet. J. (1989)

Common treatments

Many products on the market reduce dehydration and supplement glucose to rearing calves which are dehydrated or scouring. Most products can reduce the severity of dehydration. However, they do not reduce the cost incurred by the damage to the gut and the money spent on rearing to get the calf up to weight.

More than just an electrolyte

Farm-O-San PowerFit contains essential vitamins, electrolytes & glucose and probiotic to nurture and support a positive gut microflora. It is a dietetic complementary feed for cattle that can be used to stabilize the water and electrolyte balance. Farm-O-San PowerFit contains dextrose which supplies energy to offer optimal support for the animal. It is easy to use and effective for rehydrating the animal. PowerFit can be used before, during and after transport to help minimize the effects of stressful situations.

Read more

Animal Health Team

Dr Laura Tennant
Animal Health Product Manager - Calves
+44 (0)1335 341152
+44 (0)7701 384158
Dr Laura Tennant
Dr Sophie Prentice
Animal Health Product Manager - Poultry
+44 (0)1335 341115
+44 (0)7793 244446
Dr Sophie Prentice