Calf Scours: 5 Tips for Combating Pathogens

Calf Scours: Combating Pathogens

A grim fact: scours is the primary cause of death loss in calves from 2 to 30 days of age.

Within the first few hours of life, a calf gets up and is likely to suckle everything within reach as it searches for the udder. In the process, the calf is at risk for picking up various pathogens along the way. As these pathogens make their way to the gut, the calf can quickly develop scours and become dehydrated. Implement these best practices to help achieve calf health and prevent scours from impacting your calf crop.

1. Maternal Protection: Because the cow provides her calf with protection via the colostrum, scour prevention should start with her. When pregnant cows are vaccinated against bacterial and viral pathogens, they pass along the protection to calves through their colostrum.

2. Colostrum: It’s important that the calf receive adequate colostrum to achieve passive transfer of immunity from disease. Supplementation may be desirable, especially during inclement weather, which can increase pathogen load and weaken the calf’s immune system.

3. Antibodies: Scour protection vaccines may be administered orally to newborn calves within the first six to 12 hours of life.

4. Fluid Therapy: Proper rehydration with a balanced electrolyte formula is crucial for scouring calves.

5. Antibiotics: Utilize sulfas and antibiotics that are indicated for scours caused by bacterial infection.

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