The first few months of a calf's life are the most important stages of development, where immune, digestive and metabolic systems are maturing. The potential to develop their full genetic capacity can be affected and lost by poor health.
Scours is the number one occurring disease and cause of mortality in calves. There are many factors that causes scours, such as viral, bacterial and parasitic. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are 5 ways to reduce calf scours:
1. Comfort is crucial
Extreme temperatures as well as fluctuating weathers will stress the body of the calves.
Keep the calves comfortable and dry with bedding and blanketing in a draft free and well ventilated environment.
2. Make sure the surrounding is clean
Cleaning the pens out regularly and topping up will help keep the calves clean and pathogen-free.
Be sure to wash the calf blankets regularly as they may be a source of fecal residue.
Keep the bedding clean and dry regularly.
3. Keeping the calves hydrated
Avoiding any conditions that may lead to disease onset is crucial.
Dehydration from scouring will affect the calves quickly and aggressively.
Electrolytes are essential for maintaining the hydration status of a scouring calf.
Lactated ringers are an injectable form of fluid and electrolyte replenishment that can be given in concurrence with oral electrolytes.
4. Talk to your vet and have an action plan
When scours occur, share the important information with your vet to get to the bottom of the issue.
Submit fecal sample is a fast and inexpensive way to provide you with the causative agent of scours which will help you identify the best course of treatment.
Take extra precaution to avoid illnesses such as respiratory infection as there seems to be an increased incidence of respiratory illness when calves are affected by scours.
5. Ensure your calves have ample of fresh air
Increasing air turnover in the calf barn will help to reduce concentration of pathogenic air around the calves.
Cold winter or the fluctuating weather will make housing calves in optimal air quality a challenge all year round.
You may consider working with a ventilation specialist to see if any improvements in ventilation can be made.
For outdoor hutches, never close all vents and consider getting screens for the windows and doors in winter months to keep draft and snow out while air can still move through.
Consider the long term impact your calves have on the success of your herd.
Develop good management practices to keep your calves healthy all year.
Work with your vet closely to form early diagnosis techniques and appropriate treatment protocols to help manage any disease outbreaks and increase the performance of your next generation cows.
In the event of your calf's death, conduct post-mortem to find out the cause of death to help you prevent such issues in the future