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Preventing Scours Is Cheaper Than Treating Them

Click here to view as a pdf:  Preventing Scours Is Cheaper Than Treating Them


By Ryan Leiterman, D.V.M.

Calf scours have been around as long as we have had domesticated cattle and yet they continue to plague the dairy industry. When it comes to getting serious about preventing calf scours, there are four main areas to consider. They are 1) maternity pen cleanliness 2) colostrum management and dry cow vaccination 3) monitoring total solids concentration and temperature of milk or milk replacer and 4) using an intestinal stabilizer such as Calf Shield® to support the GI health of the calf.

Maternity Pen Cleanliness

Calves are infected with the agents responsible for scours (Rotavirus, Coronavirus, Cryptosporidium, Salmonella, E. coli, Coccidia, to name a few) in the maternity pen when they are exposed to fecal material from adult cows. Reduce their exposure to adult cow manure by: 1. Providing 25 lbs. of long stem straw bedding in the maternity pen between each calving. 2. If the cows calve on a group bedded pack, bed at the rate of 25 lbs. of straw/stover for every adult cow, EVERY day. 3. Limit the calf’s time in the maternity pen as these calving areas are often loaded with pathogens.

Colostrum Management + Dry Cow Vaccines

Each calf should get 4 quarts of high-quality colostrum (green on a glass colostrometer or >23% brix on a digital refractometer) within 4 hours of birth. The quality of the colostrum can be improved with the use of dry cow vaccines.

Monitor Total Solids and Temperature at Feeding

Something as simple as the total solids percentage or the temperature of the milk or milk replacer can have a huge impact on scours. Milk or milk replacer that is either too rich or too dilute will not be absorbed properly and can lead to scours. Milk or milk replacer should have a total solids range between 12-14% and be fed at a temperature between 101-103 degrees Fahrenheit. Feeding milk or milk replacer that is below 101 degrees Fahrenheit will decrease the fat and protein digestibility and can lead to poor absorption and scours.

Pail of Calf Shield

Calf Shield® Intestinal Stabilizer

The pre-wean phase is a challenging time for every calf. Calf Shield® is a powerful, cost effective intestinal stabilizer that reduces the risk of scours in calves. It provides a unique and effective blend of ingredients designed specifically to support GI health in young calves. Calf Shield® is a powder and is designed to be fed daily, in either whole milk or milk replacer feeding programs. Calf Shield® contains natural anti-microbial immune modulators, probiotics, pH acidifiers and botanical astringents. Calf Shield® has provided effective performance in the face of challenging situations for over 14 years and continues to deliver results.

Features of Calf Shield® Include:

• Easy administration – mix directly into whole milk or milk replacer at each feeding

• Flexible inclusion rates to tailor Calf Shield® dose to each calf’s health status

• Non-antibiotic formulation

• Organic and Conventional formulations available

• Available in pails or larger, bulk bags to accommodate every size operation

During the month of December, Calf Shield®, along with other calf products are 10% off. Producers can take advantage of this promotion by placing orders online or with our toll free number. In conclusion, focusing on calf scour prevention with the above mentioned tips will help reduce scours incidence and result in healthier, more profitable calves. Adding a product like Calf Shield®, specifically designed to help stabilize the intestinal tract, is a cost effective tool in preventing calf scours. If you haven’t used Calf Shield®, give it a try!