When young calves get diarrhea, they become dehydrated and are low on energy. Switching the calf to electrolytes alone won’t solve the problem, nor will feeding more milk replacer, says Geof Smith, assistant professor of ruminant medicine at North CarolinaStateUniversity.

When you take away the milk or milk replacer and feed only electrolytes, it puts the calf in a negative energy balance, and that can lead to additional complications. Scouring calves with dehydration need milk or milk replacer for energy, plus oral electrolytes to rehydrate them. The oral electrolyte should be fed as an extra meal.