Calf Scours: Combating Pathogens
A WORD FROM THE VETS...
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.
Maternal Protection -Since the cow provides 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.
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.
Antibodies -Scour protection vaccines may be administered orally to newborn calves within the first 6 to 12 hours of life.
Fluid Therapy -Proper rehydration with a balanced electrolyte formula is crucial for scouring calves.
Antibiotics - Sulfas and antibiotics are indicated for scours caused by bacterial infection.
As always, if you have questions about the health of your herd, we will do our best to help you find answers that make sense.
Arnold Nagely, DVM • Ray Shultz, DVM