The Calf Scour Triad

Calves are at risk of scour in the first four weeks of their lives with the most significant risk period within the first ten days. It is one of the most common diseases and causes of death in pre-weaned calves, accounting for more than 50% of mortalities. However it is a preventable condition if the following three areas are considered:

1. The Calf (host) The most important factor affecting the immune status of a newborn calf is colostrum. Colostrum feeding is essential; 4-4.5 litres within six hours.

2. The Shed (environment) Most scour bugs come from the faeces of the dam and other mothers, so minimising exposure of the calf to cow dung significantly reduces risk of disease.

3. The Bugs (pathogens) Viruses, bacteria and parasites are the main causes of infectious calf scour. As not all cases are bacterial in origin, often scours cannot be cured with antibiotics. This makes prevention through vaccination of the dam, good colostrum management and improving the environment key in reducing risk and infection on your farm.

1st November 2021

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