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Calf Scours

Scours is the major cause of death among calves before they’re weaned. It’s characterized by constant diarrhea, especially with mucus, blood and white or bright yellow feces. Scours decreases the ability of the calf to digest milk protein, and it causes the calf to lose appetite, become very weak and run high temperatures.

Below are some important details about the symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of scours.

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What Are the Symptoms of Calf Scours?

The major signs of calf scours include watery stool, sunken eyes, weakness, depression and inability to stand. The first sign of scours is a watery stool, which is usually followed by dehydration.

What Causes Scours in Cattle?

Scours can be triggered by a wide variety of factors. The causes of this condition are usually divided into two main groups: the non-infectious and the infectious.

Noninfectious Causes

A newborn calf may have scours due to the poor nutrition of the pregnant cow. If the energy and protein intake of the cow is inadequate shortly before calving, the quantity and quality of colostrum will be poor.

Another non-infectious cause of scours in newly born calves is a poorly maintained environment. A muddy or overcrowded lot with viral contamination can lead to stress for the newborn calf. If the calf is born in winter, it could experience a rapid drop in temperature that can induce stress, reduce its ability to nurse and cause scours.

Paying inadequate attention to the newborn calf immediately after birth can lead to a poor absorption of colostrum and antibodies within the first few hours after birth.

Infectious Causes of Scours in Calves

Bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella can cause scours. Viruses such as BVD, IBR, Rotavirus and Coronavirus, along with parasites like Coccidia and Cryptosporidium, can induce scours in young cows. Calves born into an environment with poor sanitation can easily be subjected to an outbreak of bacteria, viruses and parasites.

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How to Treat Scours

While treating scours, you should focus on rehydrating the cow, eliminating acidosis and restoring electrolytes. Here are some tips:

  • Treat dehydration: Provide simple fluids orally immediately after you observe frequent stooling. If dehydration isn’t addressed early, intravenous fluids may be required.
  • Administer electrolytes: Add dry electrolyte powder to your cattle’s water. If electrolyte powder is not readily available, prepare a solution by adding a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate or baking soda to eight ounces of 50-percent dextrose. Avoid using table sugar, and warm the solution. Administer it orally at least once every four hours.

How to Prevent Scours

To prevent scours, you need to combine good ranch management practices with basic health and medical requirements for healthy calves and cows:

  • Good management: Provide adequate nutrition, and pay attention to the sanitation and care of the calving environment. Create a very clean and dry place for calving.
  • Good nutrition: Give the pregnant cow enough vitamins, minerals, protein and energy, and modify her diet during winter. Ensure that the calf receives at least one or two quarts of colostrum within the first two hours after birth.
  • Proven supplements like CattlActive®: Give the calf and its mother CattlActive®. The supplement will boost their immunity, prevent acidosis and help the calf to start nursing well shortly after birth.

Learn More About CattlActive®

Using CattlActive® regularly for your calves and cows is a smart way to prevent scours. Get all the information you need about this product on our CattlActive® product page, or contact our team for details.

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