Menu Menu


/ News
Friday, 22nd January 2021 | 7,146 veterinary jobs online | 184 people actively seeking work | 5,068 practices registered

Veterinary Industry News

Send us your news

Vets Urged To Highlight The Benefits Of ORT For Scouring Calves

3 months ago

30th October, 2020 09h50


Vets are being urged to highlight the benefits of administering oral rehydration therapy (ORT) to scouring calves to farmers in a bid to help save the industry £60 million a year1.

It has been reported that about 170,000 of calves born alive each year die in their first month of life2 and it is estimated that up to 50% of deaths are caused by scour3, with over 48% of dairy heifer calves diagnosed with scour preweaning4.  The number of cases seen in the first month of age makes early detection and rapid management of the condition a priority to avoid unnecessary financial losses and impact on animal welfare.

The most common cause of mortality in scouring animals is dehydration as a result of increased loss of fluids with scour, leading to a decreased ability to digest and absorb nutrients, decreased appetite and voluntary food intake, resulting in significant decreases in daily live weight gain (DLWG).  This impact on growth rate can be costly and it is estimated to cost £57.94 per cow in a beef herd5 which means that the total cost of a scour outbreak in a 100-cow suckler herd (assuming 90 calves born) is over £5,000.  In a dairy herd, scour may require an average of 3.76 days treatment and add approximately 13 days to the growth period6, which will have knock on effects on the serving age and age at first calving (AFC).  Each extra day on the AFC costs £2.87 per day7, so a case of scour could add an additional £37.31 onto rearing costs.  Further, as each day that a calf is sick reduces its first lactation by 126 litres8, at a cost of 27.77ppl (August 2020 milk price), this amounts to approximately £132 worth of milk lost in the first lactation, per calf, per scour incident.

Ceva Animal Health, manufacturer of oral rehydration therapy gel Rehydion, has launched a new ‘Making Milk Matter Against Scour’ campaign to encourage farmers to use ORT during scouring to provide sufficient essential electrolytes to correct acidosis, while still continuing with milk feeding.  Milk is the best source of energy and fluid replacement for scouring calves and stopping milk has been shown to have no impact on the resolution of scour.  In fact, calves left on milk during scour can continue to gain weight.  The Making Milk Matter Against Scour initiative is being backed by a hard-hitting PR and advertising campaign and a social media initiative.

During the campaign Ceva will be running surveys to capture both vets’ and farmers’ experiences of scour and ORT.  To participate in the vet survey visit  There will be a prize draw from completed entries, with 10 vets receiving a £10 Amazon voucher.

“The ‘Making Milk Matter Against Scour’ campaign will help highlight the financial and welfare benefits of using ORT at the first signs of scour and the importance of administering it alongside milk which is the best source of energy and will help calves maintain weight gain,” says Stephenie Clarke, product manager at Ceva Animal Health. “The scour survey will provide us with an insight into the use of ORT in practice and on farm to help us drive improvements across the industry.”

James Adams, BVSc FHEA MRCVS, farm animal lead at Langford Vets, University of Bristol, adds: “If I could offer one piece of advice to farmers with scouring animals it would be to ensure hydration as dehydration is what kills!  Rehydrating an animal is essential if an animal is to be able to regain its normal function and fend off any disease.

“We’ve been using Rehydion in our vet practice for approximately two years and we mainly recommend that farmers use it in cattle, but our clients also use it in lambs and kids.  We get a lot of positive feedback from farmers on Rehydion, as they feel that it is effective and convenient to use, which aids compliance, and it can be given with milk, which is essential for maintaining a positive energy status.”

For further information on the ‘Making Milk Matter Against Scour’ initiative visit, contact your local Ceva Account Manager, call Ceva on 01494 781510 or email  To participate in the vet survey go to


  1. DEFRA 2003
  2. Ortiz-Pelaez A, Pritchard DG, Pfeiffer DU, Jones E, Honeyman P, Mawdslew, JJ (2008) Calf mortality as a welfare indicator on British cattle farms. Vet. J. 176:177-81
  3. Onstad I (2010) Calf Nutrition and Colostrum Management. NADIS accessed 07/10/20
  4. Johnson KF, Chancellor N, Burn CC, Wathes C (2017) Prospective cohort study to assess rates of contagious disease in pre-weaned UK dairy heifers: management practices, passive transfer of immunity and associated calf health. Veterinary Record Open 4:e000226. doi:10.1136/vetreco-2017-000226
  5. ADAS (2013) Economic Impact of Health and Welfare Issues in Beef Cattle and Sheep in England
  6. Donovan GA, Dohoo IR, Montgomery DM, Bennett FL (1998) Calf and disease factors affecting growth in female Holstein calves in Florida, USA. Prev. Vet. Med. 33: 1-10
  7. Boulton AC, Rushton J, Watches DC (2017) An empirical analysis of the cost of rearing dairy heifers from birth to first calving and the time taken to repay these costs. Animal. 11:8, 1372-1380
  8. Heinrichs AJ and Heinrichs BS (2011) A prospective study of calf factors affecting first-lactation and lifetime milk production and age of cows when removed from the herd. J Dairy Sci. 94:336-341

More from CEVA