Calf scour is one of the most common diseases in young calves and causes high morbidity and mortality in dairy and suckler herds. The term scour is used to describe the watery or custard-like faeces. Scour can result in serious damage to the gut, which leads to poor absorption of nutrients and can cause the calf to lose salts and water in the form of diarrhoea.

A wide variety of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or parasites can be involved producing diarrhoea with or without dehydration.

This figure and more can be found in the AHI information leaflet: “Management of the Scouring Calf”

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The primary ways to prevent scour are to make sure the calf gets a good source of colostrum within the first 6 hours of life. Colostrum supplies the calf with much needed nutrients and antibodies which will help the calf fight off infections. The second way to help prevent scour in your calves it through cleanliness of the calving pens. Keeping the bedding a clean and dry as possible will reduce the chance that new calves will be introduced to any pathogens.

AHI has a number of information leaflets which cover, Management of the Scouring Calf, Cyptosporidiosis in Neonatal Calves, and give a recipe for homemade electrolytes. Clicking on any of those topics will take you directly to the page.

As a final note, be careful when handling a scouring calf and wash your hands carefully after each time you are exposed to their faeces because some of the pathogens that cause disease in calves can also cause disease in people too!