Neonatal calves are extremely vulnerable to diarrheal infections. Their body’s own defense systems are still poorly developed and can therefore be overstrained rather quickly. Viruses, bacterial pathogens and parasites manage to settle down in the intestines. Mistakes made while giving them water can disturb the intestinal environment. These factors can then impair the intake of vital nutrients. Furthermore, this causes an increase in water excretion that can easily result in dehydration, loss of electrolytes or hyperacidity of the blood. The calves then lose much of their weight and strength.
For this reason, the animals are often treated by administering electrolyte therapy. A multi-centric, randomized blind study now looked at whether two natural medications administered together could represent an alternative to the standard therapy. In the event of increased body temperature, a complex medication produced in a homeopathic manner was also administered in place of an antibiotic. The study was conducted on 109 calves of various breeds that were between two and 13 days of age at six separate farms.
“Diarrhea is a multifactorial disease. The natural medications help regulate the body’s natural defense system,” explains Dr. Erich Reinhart, Head of Veterinary Research at Heel Germany. “In terms of its efficacy and economic aspects, this treatment proved to be a practical alternative to standard therapy. Particularly with the types of unspecific cases of diarrhea we investigated here, a bioregulatory medication is often just as effective as the standard therapy – without risking the incurrence of antibiotic resistance,” he concludes.
The calves that had fallen sick were randomized on day 0 and treated for the first time. The animals in the experimental group received a subcutaneous injection of the natural medications while the control group was treated with an oral electrolyte solution and the antibiotic was injected, if necessary. Following initial examinations, further examinations were performed on the animals every 24 hours. The animals were then examined again by day 4 at the very latest. The treatment success was found to be identical in both groups.
The study conducted by a research institute on behalf of Heel confirms the results of previous studies on the natural medications used here. In 2001, these medications were tested against a placebo in treating foal heat diarrhea and showed significantly better to far superior results than the placebo. In 1990, 5,844 piglets suffering from diarrhea received this medication only once. The success of this treatment could already be seen in 5,204 of the piglets within 24 hours.
The natural medications used here can help reduce the use of antibiotics in keeping animals to the level absolutely necessary, as EU legislation already calls for. The risk of resistant strains of bacteria emerging and the respective medications no longer having an effect on the pathogens can thus be avoided. More recent investigations are increasingly showing that natural therapies offer an extremely promising way to protect an animal’s health without incurring problematic attendant symptoms and risks for consumers.
By conducting tests on the effectiveness of natural medicines based on recognized scientific standards, Heel is building the bridge between natural and conventional medicine. The results of the study conducted by Lohr B., Braun G., Gasda N., Hellmann K. and Reinhart E. were published in the February edition of the German clinical magazine “Der Praktische Tierarzt” under the title “Behandlung von Kälberdurchfall mit biologischen Präparaten im Vergleich mit einer Standardtherapie”