Get tough on scours in your calves


CARROLLTON, Ohio – Scours causes great economic losses in beef calves.

In addition to the loss due to death, scours reduce the growth rate of the calves, resulting in lower weaning and yearling weights.

Lowering the calves’ resistance due to scours also makes them more susceptible to pneumonia and other diseases.

What you can do. Management is the most important tool in preventing scours. The cows should be in good condition so they will produce high quality colostrum.

Condition scores should be increased in the fall before the last third of gestation.

During the final third of gestation when the calf is growing rapidly, it is hard to increase the condition scores. If the cows are thin, they should be fed corn and protein so they won’t continue to lose weight.

Their other nutritional requirements should be met for minerals, trace minerals and vitamins.

Keep them clean. The calving pasture should be clean and the cows should be moved there just before the calving season.

Stockpiled grass with a heavy sod would be idea.

The hay should be rolled out so the cows’ teats stay clean.

Bale rings are a problem because of the mud. Bale rings should not be used when calves are small, but if they are necessary, use only when the ground is frozen.

Several causes. There are several diseases that cause diarrhea. The most common are E. coli, salmonella, rotavirus and coronavirus.

There are vaccines that increase the antibody levels for these diseases in the colostrum. The cows are vaccinated two to three weeks before calving and then their colostrum protects the calf.

There are several of these products and you should talk to your veterinarian to make sure they are used properly.

Scourguard 3(K)C by Pfizer and Scour Bos9 by Grand Labs are two of these products.

Colostrum still key. Whether you use these products or not, getting a large volume of colostrum in the calf the first 12 hours after birth is the most important thing to prevent health problems.

There are vaccines for calves at birth, but I do not think they work as well as vaccinating the mother.

There are colostrum supplements that are good aids if the mother does not have an adequate supply.

Some of them have antibodies that block the K99 E. coli disease process.

These may be used if you have an outbreak of scours in newborn calves.

Keeping the cows clean, providing a dry, clean lot and adequate colostrum are the most important tools in preventing scours.

(The author is a veterinarian and beef producer in Carroll County, Ohio.)


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