Scour is the most common disease affecting young calves, with up to 50% of calf deaths in the first month after calving is due to scour. Scour also causes a reduction in thrive, and increases veterinary costs and labour, resulting in a potentially significant financial losses.
The most common causes of scour in calves are;
• E Coli K99
These infections disrupt the normal working of the intestine, interfering with the absorption of water and the digestion of food.
There are ways to reduce the chance of calves getting scour, such as colostrums intake. It is essential that calves receive 10% of their bodyweight in colostrums in the first 6 hours and 5% within the first 2 hours. This is important as colostrum contains essential immunoglobulins which help to build up immunity to scour.
Good hygiene is also essential in reducing incidence of scour. It should be ensured that all calving pens are clean and dry and that cow’s udders are clean. Any sick calves should be isolated and treated immediately to prevent them from shedding and infecting other calves.
Vaccination is another way of reducing scour and should be administered to the cows around three weeks pre calving to allow the colostrum to build sufficient levels of immunity in the colostrum.