Product Category: Beef and Sheep, Dairy, Dom Health

Doing everything by the book, but still got scouring calves???

Scour-Mate™ has a unique formulation that is layered in sheets. Pathogens are trapped between those sheets and safely removed from the digestive tract so that they cause no further damage as they exit. Calves can then quickly recover, and in 75% of cases will need no further intervention. This effectively disempowers the bug while still allowing an immune response to be generated. Since trials began on farm (and over 900 farms have had the opportunity to trial it), 72% of calves have recovered without antibiotics or further treatment. Of the rest, most had endured previous treatments and antibiotics before the Scour-Mate™was used. It certainly warrants a try on your farm.

You need:

  • Clean shed/environment
  • Clean gear
  • Vigilant staff

We all do our best, but often that is not enough….and the result is scours, and sometimes those scours are deadly. That first feed of newborn calves is more than critical: its life and death! We know its important that calves get good quality colostrum as soon as possible, but it doesn’t happen often enough. And sometimes it does but the calves still get crook, so what’s going on?

The “3 Qs of colostrum” management answer that question. Calves need an appropriate QUANTITY (15% of birth weight) high QUALITY (thick, gooey and a rich yellow) colostrum from the very first milking of the cow QUICKLY (within an hour of birth) to have the best start to life. Dairy Australia has an excellent manual on colostrum harvesting that you can download for free. For further information look up colostrum management here.

Of course, bugs that cause scours can be introduced to calves from all sorts of sources. Staff need to wash their hands frequently and in between handling of calves, particularly sick calves. But the fact remains, E.coli. Is everywhere and they get a dose of this from mum during birth. While staff should arrive at the calf shed in clean clothes and footwear each time they enter, or have a disinfectant footbath (that is changed regularly) and disinfectant spray that they can mist onto their clothes, it is far more important they diligently apply the 3 Qs. This means mum’s antibodies can get into the calf’s gut fast enough and in sufficient numbers to plug the holes in the newborn’s gut (called fenestra) and prevent pathogens setting up camp. Using a broad spectrum disinfectant like Virkon is a good way to minimise introducing bugs, but it won’t touch scours if the colostrum is not sorted. Hygiene around newborn calves is a non-negotiable, but make it really clear to your people that colostrum management trumps that.

I’ve done, that but I still have sick calves…
Even with attention to detail on colostrum feeding and hygiene, it’s almost inevitable that at least one calf every season will still get sick. If you are absolutely certain you have perfectly managed colostrum management, identifying the cause of pathogens is always useful because it’s relatively rare that something other than E coli is the primary cause. When it is, you need to know. Knowing the foreigner can help identify the source and treat it appropriately. Testing kits can be bought through your vet or rural supplies store, or for more information or advice on testing kits and what types of bugs can be tested, you could contact Ngaio Diagnostics in Nelson directly. Scours kills through dehydration and acidosis. It is essential you have restocked with fresh electrolyte prior to calving.

At first sign of scours, the calf must have replacement salts. Try our calf salts – they are inexpensive and contain a nice balance of ingredients. Tube 2 litres of at least the recommended dose straight in, but make sure there is a gap of at least 2 hours since milk. NEVER, EVER mix electrolyte with milk. The calf needs the milk to continue for food, and electrolytes to replace the fluids it squirts out. Increase the number of feeds to 3 of electrolytes and 2 feeds of 2 litres of milk each day, alternating between milk and electrolyte feeding. Remember that electrolytes are just salts, and that the calf still needs the carbohydrate and protein in milk or milk replacer in order to have the energy to fight and grow. Withholding milk, even for just one feed severely compromises the calf’s recovery, starving the calf of vital nutrients.

Choosing products that will help your scouring calves is often more complex than first glance, and no product will never beat that first good feed of colostrum. Probiotics, prebiotics, natural remedies, antibiotics and literally hundreds of products are on the market are all interesting, but won’t replace colostrum, food and calf salts. However, before calving is a perfect time to contact your vet, review your systems and be sure you are on top of the game before calving starts.

For more information, contact us or your vet. We are all only too pleased to help you out.