Calf Scours

Calf Scours

(calf diarrhea)

Calf Scours” is an important condition in our cattle industry. This name describes severe diarrhea in young calves that can result in dehydration and even death. There are many causes of Calf Scours and appropriate, rapid diagnosis and treatment is vital. Proper management and husbandry practices will decrease the number of calves affected. It is important that calves are born and reared in a clean environment, receive good quality colostrum (first milk) within 12 hours of birth, good quality, appropriately mixed milk replacer is fed (if necessary), and cows are appropriately vaccinated.

-What is calf scours?

Calf scours is a general term used to describe diarrhea in pre-weaned calves.

-What causes calf scours in cattle?

There are several causes. The most common infectious causes include E. coli, Rotavirus, and Corona virus. Other infectious causes include Salmonella, cryptosporidium, and coccidia. Non-infectious causes include dietary problems, such as improperly mixed milk replacer, poor quality milk replacer, rich milk from dam or something passed through the dam’s milk from what she was eating.

-Symptoms of calf scours are:

1. foul-smelling diarrhea

2. weakness (calf)

3. dehydration

-Is calf scours contagious?

It depends on the cause of the scours. Infectious causes are contagious and sick calves should be kept separate from healthy calves.

-Risk factors for calf scours:

1. Dirty or contaminated environments

2. Failure of newborn calf to receive an appropriate amount or quality of colostrum

3. Housing sick calves with healthy calves

4. Feeding poor quality milk replacer

-How serious is calf scours?

Scours can be serious. Dehydration associated with it is the greatest threat and is life-threatening is not quickly corrected.

-Can calf scours be prevented?

There are a few different types of vaccines that can be given to the cow prior to calving to increase the antibodies in the colostrum. There are also a few vaccines and serum products that can be given to the calf early in life to try to prevent scours. Making sure that cows calve in clean environments, making sure the calves nurse colostrum within 24 hours of birth, and minimizing risk factors is the best way to prevent calf scours.


office: (337) 893-8522

Dr. Whittington and Dr. Fuselier are always here when needed. We will get back to you right away.

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