Vaccination of in-calf cows and housing practices against calf scour (Neonatal calf diarrhea)

Calf scour (Neonatal calf diarrhoea) is the most common cause of disease and death in calves during the pre-weaning period. Scour can be due to both infectious (e.g., viruses and bacteria) or non-infectious causes (such as poor nutrition). Symptoms are most often diarrhoea that might be green, yellow or grey in colour, weak animals, dehydrated animal (especially when very young) causing sunken-eyes, etc.

Good hygiene, colostrum provision and biosecurity are important for minimising the chances of an outbreak occurring, independent of the cause of scour. Calves are most at risk from infectious scour in the first 3-4 weeks of life and need a continuous source of protection. In collaboration with their herd veterinarians, farmers can vaccinate in-calf cows against calf diarrhoea a few weeks before calving, while increasing the quantities of colostrum given to the calves at birth. After doing this, cases of diarrhoea in the calves should usually drop.

In addition, it is important to segregate calves by age to prevent passing infectious agents from older calves to younger more vulnerable ones and to maintain clean, dry housing with good ventilation. For example, individual pens (which are easier to clean, transport and disinfect) could be used to rear these calves.