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Ask the Vet

Monday, June 13, 2011

Managing Scours in Calves

Calving season is well underway, and with that comes scouring calves. E. coli, Rotavirus, Coronavirus, Clostridium perfringens, and Cryptosporidium are among the most common causes of calf scours. It is not possible to look at a calf's diarrhea and know the cause, however, most all calves can be treated with a standard protocol and have successful outcomes.

1-Antibiotics

Oral sulfa boluses if the calf is still nursing, still active

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Injectable antibiotics (Nuflor, Excede) if the calf has bloody mucus in the scours, is not nursing appropriately or is acting depressed

Only treat bacterial scours, but any type of scours, if severe enough, can cause intestinal wall compromise and secondary bacterial infections

2-Oral Electrolytes

Often the most important part of treatment

Very important if the calf has a weak suckle reflex, is not energetic, and especially if it has watery diarrhea

Lots of variation in products -- choose ones with sodium bicarbonate or sodium acetate listed under ingredients, which can help reverse a calf's acidosis (Entrolyte H.E. or Epic)

Can be given once or twice daily

Do not mix with milk, only water -- very few electrolytes are designed to be mixed in with milk, read the product label and mix accordingly

3-Clostridium perfringens C & D Antitoxin

In case scours are due to Clostridium, this can be beneficial

If a scouring calf is not able to stand and will not nurse a bottle, intravenous fluids are likely necessary.

Prevention of Scours

Colostrum, colostrum, colostrum -- make sure each calf is getting enough colostrum, if necessary, give a colostrum supplement or replacer

Vaccination -- give cows a scours vaccine prior to calving

Calving density -- keep calving areas clean and do not crowd calves

Age groups -- if possible, keep older calves grouped together and younger calves grouped together so the older calves do not infect the younger

Thank you for choosing Valley Veterinary Center. We are happy to assist you in any way. Call us at (712) 225-5200 or stop in today!