What makes a good Oral Electrolyte Solution (OES)?
1) An alkalinizing agent is essential to correct metabolic acidosis:
- Acetate and propionate are best because they also produce energy when metabolized, stimulate sodium and water absorption and inhibit growth of Salmonella and other bacteria
- Bicarbonate is a weaker agent and doesn’t have additional benefits
2) Sodium to replace lost electrolytes and aid hydration.
3) Agents that facilitate intestinal sodium and water absorption (ie. glycine, acetate or glucose)
4) Energy to correct hypoglycemia. Note: milk will always have more energy than an OES, but some energy is necessary until the next milk feeding.
5) Encourage healthy GI to discourage microbial growth. The low pH in healthy stomachs and GI keep live E coli and Salmonella levels low. Healthy GI’s have increased resistance to GI infections.
1) Feed 2 extra meals of OES separately from milk to sick calves, 1 extra meal is ok
2) Offer OES at the first sign of scours and continue until it resolves, about 6-8 days
3) Don’t mix OES with milk, even if the label says you can, calves need the extra fluids, too!
4) It’s ok to skip 1 milk meal while giving OES, but they need milk within 12 hours
Ingredients to avoid in any product:
Psyllium – form of dietary fiber used in humans and cats/dogs. Thought to slow abomasal emptying in calves, studies show it doesn’t work
Rice-Based – commonly used in human medicine, induces severe diarrhea in calves!
Updated February 2018