Interpretive Summary: Rehydration post-transport: duration of oral fluid therapy on behavior, biochemical measures of hydration, and health of neonatal dairy calves
By: Jessica A Pempek, Zachary England, Gregory G Habing, Andrew Niehaus
Most male calves are sold and transported from the dairy farm soon after birth. Typically, calves are transported without access to milk and/or water, and they often arrive at calf-raising facilities with varying degrees of dehydration. This study provided calves with 0 (control), 1, 2, or 3 consecutive days of oral electrolyte solutions following transportation and assessed calf behavior, biomarkers of hydration, and subsequent health post-transport. Most calves were dehydrated and hypoglycemic (low blood glucose levels) on arrival at the calf-raising facility. Calves spent the most time lying immediately post-transport; however, electrolytes did not impact total lying time, the number of lying bouts, or lying bout duration. Providing calves with electrolytes for 2 d improved moderate dehydration (assessed via skin tent test) compared to the control. These results suggest that providing calves with 2 consecutive days of electrolytes following transportation can improve hydration status; however, more research is needed to mitigate dehydration prior to arrival at calf-raising facilities.
Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.