Once again my veterinarian science class is filling me full of knowledge and solutions for my family farm. This week our major class discussion was over scours. We also talked about what you can do to treat and prevent them on your operation.
First off for anyone who doesn’t know what scours is; it is:
“Veterinary Pathology: diarrhea in horses and cattle caused by intestinal infection.”
This disease can be detrimental to your heard because calves can pass it to one another quite easy. This infection can be cause by numerous factors; but, the most common are the bacterias E. coli and Salmonella. The calves pass it to one another by their stool. So, scours can spread quickly if you have your cow-calf pairs in a confined area. The calves do not die directly from this infection but instead from dehydration because their bodies eliminate all the fluids.
The best treatment is to obtain IV access on the calf, then to ensure they are getting enough fluids, give supplemental fluids through the IV. However, this takes a lot of time and will take the most effort. The next best suggestion is to give the correct amount of fluids needed in boluses. You must be careful though because if you give them too many boluses it will kill the microorganisms in their stomach and in turn the calf will die because the microorganisms cannot break down food. Another thing my teacher pointed out is there is no need to figure out what the cause of scours is because you treat all outbreak cases the same.
The best prevention we talked about in class was the “Sandhills Calving System”. This system consists of separating your dry cows from your cow-calf pairs every week; by putting them in different lots. This ensures that the older calves are not getting the young calves sick. This is a system that takes more effort but you should have fewer problems in the long run.
Let me know if you have any pointers on scours and the treatment/prevention in the comments below.