Managing scouring calves

Calf scour (diarrhoea) is the most common disease of young calves, and can have serious financial and welfare implications in both dairy and suckler herds. It is estimated that 50% of calf mortality in dairy herds is caused by acute diarrhoea in the pre-weaning period.

Scour develops after the lining of the intestines have been damaged by infectious agents including viruses, bacteria and parasites. As a consequence, the calf loses fluid and electrolytes (body salts) via watery faeces. This loss of water and salts creates dehydration and an alteration of the acid-base balance of the bodily fluids.

Inflammation of the intestinal lining impairs the calf’s ability to digest nutrients, creating weight loss and the potential for hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). It is important to treat cases quickly, as if severe, death can occur.

The most common causes of scour include:

  • Viral – Rotavirus, Coronavirus
  • Bacterial – E.Coli, Salmonella, Clostridial perfringens Type C
  • Parasites – Cryptosporidia, Coccidia

Scours can often be caused by more than one of these infectious agents acting together.

We do an in house scour test in the practice, please call the office on 028 8556 7150 for more information.

You can read this article and others in our May 2019 newsletter.

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