is a most common problem during the first weeks of life and is
It is the result of changed gut function; that is, the germ makes
the gut stop digesting, which increases the amount of manure and
fluids the calf passes. Calves on a milk diet normally pass only a
small amount of droppings. If the gut is affected, the amount passed
can increase markedly. For example, the amount of water passed in a
scouring calf can be 20 times normal. This extra water is mixed with
salts and other food, so the calf is losing more than it can eat.
The loss of water and salts leads to dehydration. This causes shock
and death. In other words, the germ that started the scour is
usually not the direct cause of death. It is the shock caused by the
loss of body water and salts that is the actual cause of death.
There are four major causes of scours:
E. coli (white scours)
All these can occur separately or together.
Signs and Symptoms:
There is profuse watery diarrhea, progressive dehydration and
Calf is dull and lethargic and in many cases dies in a short time.
The most important thing to do is to replace the lost body water and
salts. This is done by using electrolytes in their correct
concentration. The earlier this is done, the better the response.
Antibiotics can be used if necessary. Make sure affected calves are
warm and dry. Exposure to the weather when sick will make things
Prevention of scours
The most important
method of prevention is to provide adequate colostrum
(beestings) in the first few hours after birth.
Provide adequate housing or shelter from the weather to reduce
stress. Stress is important in allowing scours to develop.
Maintain a suitable management and feeding system. Overfeeding
and sudden changes of diet can cause further stress.