A scour outbreak in your replacement heifers can have a devastating effect, not only on the calves but also the farm team. As always, prevention is better than cure.
- Keep the environment as "clean as possible". Don't overcrowd pens, allowing 1.5 sqm/calf and no more than 20 calves/pen.
- Ensure all calves get a minimum of 2 litres of fresh, good quality first-milking colostrum within 12 hours of being born and another 2 litres in the next 12 hours.
- Ensure good routine in the calf shed, with milk at a similar temperature and consistency at each feed.
If you start to see calves beginning to scour:
- Spread calves out as much as possible, either across pens or out into clean paddocks, weather permitting.
- Consider getting 10 blood samples taken from 2-8 day old calves to check if they are getting enough colostrum.
- Increase disinfection on the calf pens, calf trailer and feeding equipment. Don't forget your boots and clothing too!
- Get professional advice!
- Ensure all scouring calves are getting adequate fluids each day. This is 6-8 litres of fluid/day.
- Critically sick calves that can't get up may need IV fluids and/or bicarbonate to get them up again. I recently treated a calf which was very close to death with bicarbonate into the vein and had it up and drinking within 3 hours.