Calf Scours: Deadly for Calves, Costly for Farms

Protecting calves from any kind of diseases is extremely important to ensure the sustainability of your herd, especially for dairy farms. At this point, calf scours can be deadly for calves and costly for farms. Here is what you need to do to keep your calves alive.

Calf Scours: Deadly for Calves, Costly for Farms

There are many breeders struggling with calf scours. It would be beneficial for breeders to share a few information about calf diarrhea which is still causing a great economic loss today. If you encounter scours in any calf in your herd, the first thing you need to do is to consult your veterinarian. The most effective way to prevent calf scours is prevention rather than treatment. There are protocols that appear while still in the uterus (womb) to prevent the calf from developing diarrhea after calving. These protocols will reduce the risk of diarrhea to a minimum, and even could resolve the calf scours problem forever, as long as applied. We can separate these protocols as before and after the calving.

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Before Calving:

  • Are vaccines that applied to the dry-off cow against pathogens completed? The protection of vaccines are transferable via the colostrum and because the newborn calf needs that protection, they are live-sustaining.
  • Have these vaccines been preserved with the cold chain? If the cold chain transportation breaks down, the vaccines are spoiled and less likely effective.
  • After Calving:

  • Has the umbilical cord been cleaned after calving immediately?
  • Has the calf been dried sufficiently after calving?
  • Is meconium (first stool) checked?
  • Was the septicemia vaccine administered as soon as the calf was born?
  • Has colostrum been given at an appropriate temperature and adequate administration within a few hours after calving? Colostrum intake should be controlled in the following hours. It has a great importance on protecting the calf against pathogens in the external environment.
  • Is the calf sucking milk from the udder or bottle? It can cause diarrhea due to the fact that we cannot be sure about the exact amount when the calf is nursed by its dam and also because of the possibility of various pathogens on the udder. If we want calf to be nursed by dam, cleanliness of both udder and the environment are vital for the health of calf.
  • For animals with little or no congenital sucking reflexes, colostrum should be given at the appropriate temperature via feeding tube. Advise your vet for conditions like this
  • Unnecessary use of antibiotics must be avoided.
  • Was the calf placed in a dry, clean and wind-free place with plenty of straw?
  • Is the litter in the calf hutch dry and clean? Is the litter replaced regularly? The disease rate increases in unclean hutches.
  • Are the bottles of calves cleaned properly? Is a bottle used repeatedly, without being cleaned? Feeding bottles have a great importance on disease transitions. So, do pay attention to bottle cleaning.
  • Do you check the temperature of the milk before feeding the calf? The milk cools rapidly during the winter conditions. It should be maintained at 36-37 °C.
  • Bottles should be checked regularly. Aging and leaking bottle caps should not be used. In addition, when the holes of bottles are too large, problems may occur due to the rapid milk flow.
  • Is there enough clean water in the trough? There should always be clean water in the calf hutch.
  • Have you checked how much calves are consuming after the calf starter feed is given? Knowing how many kilograms of feed they consume per day is very important for both the development of the calf and for your budget.
  • Do not change the feed unless you have to. If you have to change it, you should switch to a new one gradually.

  • Among these items listed, the longer-lasting protection method is vaccine, and all other precautions increase the chance of survival of calves.

    If there are cases of calf scours despite all preventions, you should review them and consult your veterinarian. While informing the vets about your cattle, you need to give accurate information to diagnose correctly. We recommend MilkingCloud to control the health of your herd in the most efficient and accurate way. Track and report all the vaccinations, examinations and diagnosis to easily manage the herd health via MilkingCloud.

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