Hydra-Power Range

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https://www.net-tex.co.uk/news/more-hydration-hydra-power-rangeOral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) is an important aid for raising healthy calves and is critical when combating outbreaks of scour and other diseases. A good product is much more than just salt and water. Choosing the right product and using it correctly will save lives and improve productivity.

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

An adequate feed of high-quality colostrum at birth is vital to help prevent scour, 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 management, outbreaks of diarrhoea are frequent, so early effective intervention is crucial to minimise 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 rehydration 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 spotting signs early and starting on oral electrolytes can be critical.


Water by itself is insufficient to correct the dehydration and it’s also necessary to replace electrolytes and correct the acidosis. That is why a good quality Oral rehydration Formula is so essential. These contain a range of constituents that work together to support the calf: -

  • Sodium. This is a vital electrolyte, and large quantities are lost in the diarrhoea. In addition, as it is absorbed by the gut it helps to draw water across with it, 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. It also helps the absorption of sodium and therefore water from the gut.
  • Alkalising agent, for example Acetate. This reverses the build-up of acid that cause the acidosis

ORT 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 ORT 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 and Hydra-Power Advanced are easy to prepare oral hydration formulas to help support calf recovery. They contain the essential electrolytes that need replacing as well as dextrose to provide energy and speed up absorption of water. To help maintain normal pH they also include an alkalising agent, as well as an antioxidant. They are highly effective, economically viable and easy to administer on farm.