There have been several reports from suckler farmers dealing with calf scour over the past week, both in housed and grazing animals.

In most cases, spring calving is at an advanced stage before scours become an issue and as such, the disease build-up in calving sheds is on the high side.

Scours are caused by bacteria (E Coli or salmonella), a virus (coronavirus and rotavirus) or a parasite (coccidiosis or crypto). Calves can also scour from excessive milk feeding.

Knowing which scour is the problem is important in order to effect the right treatment. Bacterial and viral scours usually affect very young calves around a few days to one week old.

Coccidosis and crypto usually affect calves around two to three weeks of age and older. But this is not set in stone, so a proper diagnosis is important.

Lowering the risk

Scour pathogens will come from the cow, so it is hard to completely nip the problem in the bud. But start with shed hygiene and get cows and calves outside at the first chance.

However, repeatedly using the same paddocks for turnout means scour pathogens can build up on these pastures, especially around the areas where cows congregate.

If possible, try to clean out the calving shed, disinfect and use plenty of clean, dry straw for a fresh bed.

Clean out water and feed troughs used by calves, especially if there are signs of bird faeces present. Do not let calves lie on wet, soiled bedding or lie around water troughs.

If possible, clip dung from the cow’s belly and tail to keep the udder clean and make sure calves are properly hydrated. An oral electrolyte may be needed.

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