Scours in Calves

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.

  1. Keep the environment as "clean as possible".  Don't overcrowd pens, allowing 1.5 sqm/calf and no more than 20 calves/pen.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. Spread calves out as much as possible, either across pens or out into clean paddocks, weather permitting.
  2. Consider getting 10 blood samples taken from 2-8 day old calves to check if they are getting enough colostrum.
  3. Increase disinfection on the calf pens, calf trailer and feeding equipment.  Don't forget your boots and clothing too!
  4. Get professional advice!
  5. Ensure all scouring calves are getting adequate fluids each day.  This is 6-8 litres of fluid/day.
  6. 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.