Scours prevention
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Scours: Preventing a big risk for little calves

May 17, 2021
POSTED BY: Ken Learmont | DVM | Dairy Technical Services | Zoetis

The first 60 days are essential to calf growth. Calves are the most feed efficient during this time, so don’t let scours make a mess of their potential.

Scours (calfhood diarrhea) and other digestive problems are some of the leading causes of calf sickness and death, responsible for more than half of pre-weaned heifer deaths.1 Protect young calves by following these scours prevention tips to support calves during their first two months of life:

Prevent scours outbreaks in newborn calves

  • Start scours prevention before birth. Vaccinating dry cows and heifers with ScourGuard® 4KC three to six weeks before calving helps enhance the impact of their colostrum by helping protect calves against the most common scours pathogens.
  • Maintain calving-area hygiene. The maternity pen is calves’ first environmental contact and can expose them to disease-causing pathogens. Keep the calving area clean by removing dirty bedding and sanitizing pen floors, walls and gates.

Support health with proper nutrition

  • Start your calves off strong. Calves don’t just need colostrum. They need the right amount of high-quality colostrum at the right time to ensure they receive enough passive immunity to help them fight off disease in their first few weeks of life.
  • Keep up the calories. As your calves grow, make sure they take in enough calories through pasteurized whole milk, milk replacer and/or starter feed to support their developing immune systems.

Maintain sanitary conditions

  • Change bedding regularly. Wet, dirty bedding material can be a breeding ground for harmful pathogens. Keep pens and hutches clean and disinfect thoroughly after calves are moved.
  • Clean feeding equipment. Proper cleaning and sanitation of feeding equipment, such as buckets, bottles, nipples and mixing utensils, is necessary to help prevent the spread of disease and illness among calves.

This work during the first two months can last a lifetime and lead to healthy, productive replacement heifers. Contact your veterinarian or Zoetis representative to learn more about proper calf management and using ScourGuard 4KC to help prevent scours.

1 U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dairy 2014 Health and Management Practices on U.S. Dairy Operations, 2014. Accessed April 22, 2021.

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