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Preparing for Dehydration!


July is typically an extremely hot month and we have not been disappointed yet.

In our July Blog we will address how to determine if you need an intervention on a dehydrated calf.


I have created some steps for you to use and make them your own for your operation.

Steps to Evaluate Dehydration

  • Evaluate fecal scores, calves with very loose manure are at high risk of dehydration
    • Clinical signs
      • Sunken eyes
      • Dry mouth & nose
      • Weight loss
      • Fast and very slow pulse
      • Cold ears & legs

Conduct a Tenting Test:

  • Firmly pinch the loose skin on the neck & see how long the skin remains tented
  • If the skin remains tented for 2-6 seconds = moderately dehydrated
  • If the skin remains tented for more than 6 seconds = severe dehydration = fluids
    • To determine the amount of electrolytes to feed, multiply the weight of the calf by the % dehydration & divide the two to get liters of liquid needed. (100x.08)=8/2=4L
  • Healthy calves under heat stress will drink between 6 -12 Liters of water daily just to maintain hydration.  Severely sick calves under heat stress sometimes require 20 qts of water daily to replace the amount of fluid lost.
  • Winter weather creates its own issues requiring extra nutrition + electrolytes to not just maintain but gain as well. Dehydration will pull fluids out of tissue no matter what time of the year.

It is nearly impossible to feed calves too much electrolytes, feeding too little is quite common.    

  • Cost of dehydration/ Heat stressed calves
  • Loss of calf
  • Labor time
  • Treatments
  • Contamination

What does it cost you to not have an Heat Abatement plan for your Calves

  • Loss of calf
  • Labor time
  • Treatments
  • Contamination

Hopefully these tips are helpful during these hot summer months.


Minnie Ward


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