Prevention of Scours in Baby Calves is Better than Cure!

I have seen several dairy farmers this Autumn having problems with scouring calves so I thought I would provide some important steps to reduce the impact on calf health, performance, and your bank balance!

The first 60 days are essential to calf growth.  Calves are the most feed efficient during this time, so don’t let scours make a mess of their potential.

  • Vaccinating dry cows and heifers with a suitable vaccine that covers more than just Rotovirus three to six weeks before calving helps enhance the impact of their colostrum by helping protect calves against the most common scours pathogens.  Discuss the best option with your Vet.
  • Maintain calving-area hygiene.  The calving area is the calf’s first environmental contact and can expose them to disease-causing pathogens.  Keep the calving area clean by removing dirty bedding and disinfecting all surfaces which the calf has contact with.
  • Calves don’t just need colostrum.  They need the right amount of high-quality colostrum at the right time to ensure they receive enough passive immunity to help them fight off disease in their first few weeks of life.  Harvest colostrum within one to two hours of calving to optimise colostrum quality and feed the calf three to four litres.
  • Calories are important.  As your calves grow, make sure they take in enough calories through pasteurized whole milk, milk replacer and/or starter feed to support their developing immune systems.
  • Bed up regularly.  Wet, dirty bedding material can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.  Keep pens and hutches clean and disinfect thoroughly after calves are moved.
  • Clean feeding equipment.  Proper cleaning and sanitation of feeding equipment, such as buckets, bottles, teats and mixing utensils, is necessary to help prevent the spread of disease and illness among calves.
  • Store colostrum in small containers that cool quickly.  Bacterial growth is rapid in warm colostrum and can cause severe contamination and poor calf health.  Cooling colostrum quickly and thoroughly and then storing clean colostrum is crucial to maintaining high quality.  Using a Refractometer or hydrometer to measure quality are useful indicators for freezing the highest quality colostrum.  Mark the containers with a traffic light system ensures the best quality (green) is used on the youngest calves – feed for five days.

If you need advice on setting up a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), please contact Mark at or Tel 07773 027999