More Than Hydration: Hydra-Power Range

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Electrolytes are an important aid for raising healthy calves and is critical when combating outbreaks of diarrhoea and other diseases. A good product is much more than just salt and water and choosing the right product and using it correctly will save lives and improve productivity.

Diarrhoea is common in young calves and a significant cause of mortality. Viruses, such as Rotavirus, are a major cause with bacterial infections less common. Diarrhoea can also be triggered by feeding practices, such as milk replacers fed at the wrong temperature or concentration, or irregular feeding patterns.

An adequate feed of high-quality  colostrum at birth is vital to help prevent diarrhoea, providing  passive immunity to combat infections. Vaccination against the common viruses is widely practiced, but vaccination of the cow will only help if calf gets colostrum.  Equally important is good hygiene and a suitable feeding protocol.

Despite good prevention, outbreaks of diarrhoea are frequent so early effective treatment is crucial to minimising the impact on the herd and farm profitability. Except in those infrequent cases where a pathogenic bacteria has been identified, antibiotics are of no use and should not be used. Combatting the effects is all about supporting the calf and countering the problems caused by the diarrhoea, and oral hydration formulas are central to this.

The key problems encountered are dehydration and loss of electrolytes. In addition, there is often a build-up of acid in the tissues, known as acidosis.

The loss of fluid in diarrhoea is the most significant (and visible) problem and will lead to the calf becoming dehydrated. This can happen very quickly, and the earlier steps are taken the better the outcome. A dehydrated calf can have sunken eyes, dry mucous membranes around the mouth and eyes and the skin can stay tented when pinched. It’s much better to act before these signs show. If untreated the calf can become depressed, unable to stand or feed and decline rapidly. These cases will need prompt veterinary treatment and intravenous fluids. It’s obviously better to prevent things getting to this stage so early use of electrolytes is beneficial when first signs are seen.

Water by itself is insufficient to correct the dehydration and it’s also necessary to replace electrolytes and help maintain a normal pH. That is why a good quality electrolyte formula is so essential. These contain constituents that work together to support the  calves including: -

• Sodium. This is a vital electrolyte, and large quantities are lost in the diarrhoea. In addition, as it is absorbed into the gut it helps to draw water across, speeding up rehydration.

• Potassium and Chloride. Two more key electrolytes.

• Glucose (also called dextrose.) This provides valuable energy for the calf at a time when milk feeding can be reduced. In addition, they also help the absorption of sodium and therefore water from the gut.

• Alkalising agent, for example Acetate. This helps maintain a normal body Ph.


Additional beneficial ingredients to look out for include:

• Gelling agent, for example Psyllium. This helps slow the of passage of fluid through the gut.

• Pro Biotics, for example beneficial bacteria, to aid healthy recolonization of the gut.

Electrolytes should be started at the first sign of diarrhoea following the instructions on the product and continued for at least 2 days. It used to be common practice to withhold milk during this time but there is no evidence that milk make the diarrhoea worse, and milk will continue to provide the calf energy. It is best to give the electrolytes at different times of the day than feeding milk. Fresh water should always be available.

If the calf’s condition continues to deteriorate or does not improve in a reasonable time, then veterinary attention should be sort.

Hydra-Power is an easy to prepare 4 in 1 oral hydration formula, providing  essential electrolytes, energy, an alkalising agent and a natural antioxidant.  It is highly effective, economically viable and easy to administer on farm.

Hydra-Power Advanced provides all that Hydra-Power does with the addition of a gelling agent and probiotics