Remember, scours prevention is the most important and cost-effective area to invest your time. Attack these three broad points:

  1. Good general hygiene minimizes exposure, thus preventing disease. There are numerous opportunities for improving sanitation. A few include improving the general sanitation of calving lots, disinfecting calving barn pens between occupancy, sanitizing calf treatment equipment between uses and isolating scouring calves.
  2. Make sure the calf gets enough colostrum. This is the single most important determinant of the calf's immune status during the neonatal period. Failure to do this means a 3- to 10-fold increase in the calf's risk of becoming sick.
  3. Proper cow vaccination against E. coli and rotavirus and coronavirus can increase the antibodies she passes through her colostrum to the calf.

The complex, interrelated nature of these strategies makes prevention a challenge. For example, implementing a sound vaccine program (prevention strategy 3) will be totally ineffective if calves don't suckle enough colostrum (prevention strategy 2).

Likewise, even if you accomplish prevention strategies 2 and 3, if the environment in which the calves are born is heavily loaded with scours pathogens (strategy 1), it will overwhelm the calf's immunity and scours will result.

Scours is one of several management disease complexes where integrated prevention strategies and attention to detail in multiple areas are required for success.


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