6 Oct 2018
Diarrhoea or calf scour can be a major cause of calf mortality and lost profit in many beef suckler herds.
Financial losses result from individual dead calves and the severe check in growth of many young calves in the group. Oral electrolyte solutions are expensive and labour costs add further to financial losses.
Purchase of replacement calves purchased from markets risks introducing many disease organisms including Salmonella species on to the farm. Other important enteris diseases that can be introduced by purchased stock include bovine virus diarrhoea (BVD) and Johne’s disease (paratuberculosis).
The most important causes of calf diarrhoea are rota- and corona-viruses. It is essential to appreciate that most outbreaks of calf diarrhoea are caused by viruses and that fluid therapy rather than antibiotic therapy is the more effective treatment strategy. Antibiotics must only be used in specific disease situations as directed by a veterinary surgeon.
As with all animal diseases prevention is better than cure and an effective veterinary herd health plan is essential for all beef herds to maintain health and prevent costly diseases.