Management of Calf Diarrhoea

  • Diarrhoea in calves can occur due to various reasons.
  • Calves with diarrhoea lose considerable amounts of water and electrolytes.
  • Diarrhoea and rapid loss of fluid and ions can cause the calf to die very quickly.



  • Replace the lost water and electrolytes at the earliest -Feed 2-4 litres of electrolyte solution every day
  • The electrolyte solution provided should be over and above the normal feeding.
  • Consult a veterinarian at the earliest to determine the cause of diarrhoea and to provide appropriate treatment.

 Home  electrolyte  solution  formula        
(For 1 litre of warm water)         
Glucose * - 5 teaspoons          
Soda bi carb - 1 teaspoon          
Table salt - 1 teaspoon
          teaspoon=5 g (approx.)          

* Calves do not digest table sugar (sucrose) effectively and addition may worsen diarrhoea leading to more fluid and electrolyte losses. Glucose is hence preferred.


Dehydration  level (%)


Up to 5%

No symptoms, animal is normal.

5 – 6%

Diarrhoea, no clinical signs, strong suckling reflex.

6 - 8%

Mild depression, skin tenting* 2-6 seconds,  still suckling,  sunken eyes, weak.


Depressed, laying down, eyes very sunken, dry gums, skin tenting more than 6 seconds.


Cannot stand, cool extremities, skin remains tented, comatose.

Over 14%

Leads to death

* The skin above the eye and around the chest and neck should rapidly snap back and return to normal when released. If the skin remains raised it is considered ‘tented’. The time taken to return to normalcy indicates the level of dehydration.

Calves showing symptoms of above 8% dehydration require immediate intrave­nous fluid therapy, contact a veterinarian immediately.



  • Ensure that adequate quantities of colostrum has been fed to the calf within 6  hours of birth to avoid failure of transfer of immunity.
  • Ensure that the calf is maintained in a hygienic and dry environment.
  • Ensure udder cleanliness before allowing the calf to suckle.


                                  Early management of diarrhoea will save your calf