Calf scour is a custard like feces. It can appear white, yellow, gray or have blood stains. There are three main causes of calf scour. Parasites which are the most common include crytosporidia and coccidia. Viruses which are a less common cause of scour include coronavirus and rotavirus. It is rare but bacteria can also cause scour in calves such as e-coli and salmonella.
It is the main threat to the life of a calf between the ages of 2 days and 4 weeks.
You should contact your vet if the calves eyes are very sunken, if it is too weak to stand, if it refuses to drink milk and if it has a high temperature or a low temperature.
Do not remove the milk from the calf it does not speed up recovery and could lead to starvation.
Feeding the calf the electrolyte sollution is the most vital treatment.
Antibiotics should be given if the calf is very ill and has a high temperature.
You need to have good hygeine when dealing with sick calves as humans can be infected with crytoporidia and salmonella. You may need to rehydrate the calf with an electrolyte sollution using a stomach tube if the calf is very ill.
Treating a calf with scour.
- Remove the calf from the group which will reduce the chances of the other calves getting infected and the sick calf getting reinfected. It greatly increases the chance of survival of the calf.
- Give the calf oral rehydrating sollutions , the calf becomes severly dehydrated when it is suffering from scour. The calf must be rehydrated to replace the fluids and salts lost due to the scour. The electrolyte tablets are very important. If you give the oral rehydrating sollutions as soon as the calf starts scouring it has a better chance of survival.
- The calf must continue to drink the milk if the milk is removed from the calf they can lose condition quickly, development is slowed down and they can die quickly.
- With moderate scour 2 liters of electrolyte sollution 3 times a day is recommended.
Prevention is better than cure
Good farm management is needed in order to prevent an outbreak of scour in your calves.
Good hygiene is of utmost importance. Even if the calf has had a good amount of collostrum it can still get infected with scour due to unhygenic conditions.
- Clean dry bedding is vital for where your calf is being housed.
- The pens must be cleaned out between calves.
- Dont get lazy. Keep the conditions for the calves and cows perfect thoughout the season.
- Keep the calving equipment clean.
- Be generous with the naval dip when the calf is born.
A sick calf will have a dull apperance, its feces will smell terrible and it will have a high temperature.
When the temperature of a sick calf drops below 38 degrees celcius the calf is suffering from shock and dehydration. When the calf gets hyperthermia at 37 degrees it will need to be put under a heat lamp. The vet will usually need apply an intravenous drip or subrtavenous drip to the calf when they are in this difficult state.
The younger the calf the greater its chances of death from scour.