Milk consumption monitoring as a farmer friendly indicator for advanced treatment in limited fed calves with neonatal diarrhoea syndrome
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether milk consumption (MC) could be used as a simple farmer-friendly indicator for providing advanced treatment to limited fed diarrhoeic neonatal calves. Complementarily, it was evaluated whether the standard indications for veterinary care (severe dehydration and/or acidosis-septicaemia) are associated with different patterns in MC. The MC and health records of 103 calves with diarrhoeathat were fed a milk replacer at the volume of 10% of their body weight were used in the study. The MC reduction rate (MCRR) was calculated after each feeding (MCt) during the diarrhoea course, based on the MC prior to the diarrhoea onset for each calf (MC0) using the formula MCRR = 100 × (MC0 − MCt)/MC0. The calves were assigned into the ST group (n = 58) if they only received the standard treatment (oral rehydration solutions between milk feedings) until recovery, and into the advanced treatment (VT) group (n = 45) if they needed advanced treatment (i.v. fluids ± antibiotics) directly or after the standard treatment. The calves in the VT group that only had dehydration, were further assigned into the DH subgroup (n = 22) and those with signs of acidosis-septicaemia with or without dehydration were assigned into the ASD subgroup (n = 23). The MC was practically stable in the ST group throughout the diarrhoea course. In the VT group, the MC was significantly reduced during the last 36 hours prior to the advanced treatment administration. This reduction was significantly higher in the ASD subgroup than the DH subgroup. The MCRR on the last meal prior to treatment administration was proven to be a very reliable indicator for the detection of diarrhoeic calves needing advanced treatment (cut-off: ≥ 24.5%; sensitivity: 95.6%; specificity: 98.7%) and of those with acidosis-septicaemia (cut-off: ≥ 29.6%; sensitivity: 91.7%; specificity: 99.1%). The results of the study show thatfarmers employing this feeding regimen should seek veterinary assistance when the milk consumption of calves is reduced by ≥ 24.5%.
milk intake monitoring; calf scours; intensive therapy; farmer guidelines
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