Give Life Back to Dehydrated Calves: Feeding Electrolytes the Right Way

There may not be a magic bullet to help with scours in calves but adding electrolytes to their diet will help save their lives. When calves get scours they lose a lot of water and minerals. With diarrhea being the leading health concern with calves, adding electrolytes will be the most beneficial. Antibiotics can help, but only kills the bacteria that infected the calf. Calves with scours lose a tremendous amount of fluid. Just giving antibiotics doesn’t help with the dehydration the calf faces, but adding extra fluids will help replenish the calf. A 100-pound calf needs about 10 percent of her body weight in fluids. A normal calf will drink four to five liters of fluids. When dehydration hits, a calf needs help to catch up on the fluids they are losing. This is where the electrolytes come in. Signs of scours: One good indicator to see if the calf is dehydrated is to check her eyes. If you notice her eyes have sunken in, she is already sick and dehydrated. The more sunken the eyes, the worse she is. You also can take the skin on the back of her neck and pinch it. If it takes longer than two seconds to flatten, you are more than likely dealing with a dehydrated calf.  Note the tables to help you figure out how dehydrated the calf might be: How dehydrated is the calf? Dehydration Attitude Sunken eye Skin tent duration Normal Mild Moderate Severe Normal Normal to slightly depressed (still standing) Depressed Very depressed, can’t stand, no suckle reflex None 2-4 mm 4-6 mm 6-8 mm None 1-3...

Adding Methionine to Lactating Dairy Rations

The benefits of adding methionine to dairy lactating rations to enhance milk and milk protein production has been known for many years. The return on investment of this inclusion was usually measured by the cost of the methionine against the potential return from milk protein production.  The value of milk protein has varied greatly over the last few years. The value of this milk protein is at a low point, which has many questioning the value of adding methionine, and some reducing the amount of supplementation. Additional research has shown the value of feeding dairy cows methionine pre- and post-freshening. Research shows it improves immune function during the critical transition period. A presentation at the 2016 Four-State Nutrition Conference by Dr. Phil Cardoso of the University of Illinois highlighted the beneficial effects of methionine supplementation during the later stages of follicle growth and early embryo development. Supplemented cows had lower early embryonic death (primarily between day 21-61). “Supplementation of cows with methionine during the final stages of follicular development and early embryo development, until Day 7 after breeding, lead to lipid accumulation changes in the embryos and resulted in differences in gene expression in the embryo.  Methionine supplementation seems to impact the preimplantation embryo in a way that enhances its capacity for survival because there is strong evidence that endogenous lipid reserves serve as an energy substrate. The lower pregnancy losses from cows fed methionine enriched diets suggest that methionine favors embryo survival, at least in multiparous cows. Further studies are needed to corroborate whether supplementation with methionine would have a beneficial impact on embryo survival and if these...