K-State Experts: Fluid Intake Vital for Beef Cattle Recovery from Gastrointestinal Viruses

By Trish Svoboda

The Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute experts stress that fluid intake is crucial for beef cattle recovering from gastrointestinal viruses, much like humans. According to K-State veterinarians discussed in a recent Cattle Chat podcast, young calves suffering from severe dehydration due to scours may face fatal consequences without quick intervention.

Veterinarian Brad White notes that scours commonly affect calves within the first 3-4 weeks of life, causing severe diarrhea and dehydration. Brian Lubbers, another K-State veterinarian, highlights signs of dehydration in calves, including sunken eyeballs.

To address this issue, Bob Larson suggests cattle producers keep commercial electrolyte replacements handy. Larson advises administering oral electrolytes using a bottle or esophageal feeder. If calves are too sick to drink, veterinarians may need to administer IV fluids.

Both Larson and Lubbers stress the importance of consulting local veterinarians for treatment guidance. Lubbers recommends spacing out electrolyte and milk feedings to prevent curdling. In addition, White emphasizes isolating sick calves to prevent disease transmission and maintaining hygiene protocols, including wearing gloves, washing equipment, and practicing thorough hand washing.

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