Battling calf scours this spring
The lengthening days are finally upon us and another spring calving season is underway.
And with that comes the problem of scouring calves, a frustratingly common disease experienced on most cattle farms in Ireland and around the world.
Not only does calf scour have a major impact on the viability of farm operations, due to direct costs of treatment and calf losses and the long-term effects on performance, it also accounts for additional workload and frustration for those caring for the calves on the farm.
Whether a calf does or does not develop scour depends on the balance between its resistance to infection and the level of infection to which it is exposed.
It is therefore essential to ensure that calves receive sufficient, good quality colostrum as soon as possible after birth and adequate nutrition throughout the first weeks of life.
Calving cows in a clean environment and keeping calves in comfortable, dry, clean pens will significantly reduce the level of infection and the risk of scour.
The infections that pose the most threat to calves are ubiquitous. However, despite our best efforts to prevent this sometimes devastating disease, completely eliminating it from our farms is impossible.
A quick response is crucial to minimise the impact of scour when it hits a calf. It is important to know that antibiotics will not help most cases of diarrhoea as viral and/or parasitic infectious agents are most commonly involved.