Farm Ireland

Monday 18 December 2017

Four steps to combat cases of calf scour on your farm

How should you treat a calf with scour?

1. Separate the scouring calf

Remove the calf from the group -- this helps prevent spread of infection and gives the calf a better chance to recover. Scouring suckler calves and their dams should be separated from other calves and their mothers.

2.Give oral rehydration solutions

The single most important treatment is to replace the salts and fluids that are lost with scour. Healthy calves need up to four litres of fluid a day and scouring calves need an additional four litres to replace lost fluids.

Give one or two extra feeds (2l each) of a good quality oral rehydration solution as soon as the calf starts scouring and while it is scouring.

These should be given independent of the milk feeds (for example, at lunchtime and, if the diarrhoea is severe, again late in the evening).

You can safely give these solutions by stomach tube if the calf refuses or is unable to drink.

Also Read

3.Continue to feed milk

Continuing to feed with milk or good quality milk replacer does not cause, worsen or prolong scour. The milk actually helps the healing of the intestine.

Continue to offer scouring calves normal amounts of milk or milk replacer as long as they want to drink. Do not feed diluted milk to calves. Leave suckler calves with their dams.

Milk or milk replacer should not be stomach-tubed. Milk given repeatedly by stomach tube will lead to the build-up of acids in the rumen and damage the ruminal wall.

Therefore, it is not recommended as a method for feeding of milk to calves that are not drinking due to ill health.

Stomach tubing can, however, be used for feeding of electrolyte fluids quite safely.

4.When to call the vet

If calf scour is a problem in your herd, your vet can investigate what infectious agents are involved and give you advice on the best measures of prevention and treatment.

A calf with scour should be seen by your vet if it refuses to drink several feeds in one day, or if it is down or very weak, its eyes are sunken from dehydration or its temperature is above or below the normal range of 38.53C - 39.53C.

Irish Independent