Avoid­ing a scours out­break

Warragul & Drouin Gazette - - “HERE’S MY CARD” -

Calves are the fu­ture of your herd, there­fore keep­ing them in good health is vi­tally im­por­tant.

A scours out­break can be time con­sum­ing, ex­pen­sive to treat and, if not man­aged cor­rectly, can re­sult in sig­nif­i­cant losses.

Calf scours is most com­mon in beef calves dur­ing the first six weeks of life.

It’s dif­fi­cult to con­trol the dis­ease once calves start to scour and be­come sick. There­fore, it’s im­por­tant to man­age calv­ing herds to avoid out­breaks. Scours is caused by an in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the environment, the health of the calf and the pres­ence of dis­ease caus­ing agents (pathogens), which in­clude bac­te­ria, viruses and pro­to­zoa.

These pathogens are shed in low, but in­creased num­bers in the ma­nure of cows around the time of calv­ing, and in much greater num­bers in the ma­nure of scour­ing calves and un­af­fected calves up to six months of age.

Dur­ing a scours out­break, a rapid build-up of pathogens can oc­cur in the environment.

While the pathogen’s ac­tions vary, their ef­fects are con­sis­tent - a loss of fluid and elec­trolytes as­so­ci­ated with di­ar­rhoea lead­ing to de­hy­dra­tion, weak­ness, and in some cases the death of the calf.

To re­duce the risk of calf scours in your herd you should:

Min­imise con­tact be­tween young calves and po­ten­tial sources of in­fec­tion by avoid­ing wet, muddy ar­eas or ar­eas with ma­nure build up.

Max­imise colostrum in­take by avoid­ing calv­ing

Vic­to­rian farm­ers will get the sup­port they need to work smarter and more safely with the state govern­ment de­liv­er­ing a new pro­gram to im­prove safety across agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries and sup­port work­ers to adopt new and emerg­ing tech­nol­ogy.

Agri­cul­ture and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Jaala Pul­ford last week an­nounced $20 mil­lion in fund­ing for the Vic­to­rian Agri­cul­ture Skills State­ment: Smarter, Safer Farms.

The pro­gram will in­clude $10 mil­lion in farm safety and well­be­ing ini­tia­tives to change Vic­to­ria’s farm safety cul­ture and re­duce the num­ber of deaths and in­juries on farms.

It also will de­liver a $10 mil­lion skills pro­gram, fo­cused dif­fi­culty (dys­to­cia) and poor early bond­ing. Calves from heifers are most at risk. Any calf that hasn’t suck­led within six hours of birth should be sup­ple­mented with colostrum Avoid stress, poor nutri­tion and crowd­ing Avoid the in­tro­duc­tion of new calf scour pathogens into the herd by not re­plac­ing dead calves with bobby calves from an­other prop­erty and not in­tro­duc­ing re­cently pur­chased an­i­mals into the calv­ing herd.

Con­trol mea­sures should be ap­plied quickly when scour­ing calves re­quire treat­ment as the dis­ease can spread rapidly if pathogen build-up is not ad­dressed.

Move all preg­nant cows to a new calv­ing pad­dock and don’t put any new calves with af­fected cows and calves.

To suc­cess­fully treat a scour­ing calf, sup­port­ive ther­apy is needed to coun­ter­act the ef­fects of di­ar­rhoea.

The most im­por­tant as­pect of sup­port­ive ther­apy is to give an ad­e­quate quan­tity of flu­ids and elec­trolytes to re­place what is lost in the di­ar­rhoea.

The use of an­tibi­otics may be ap­pro­pri­ate but only un­der ve­teri­nary ad­vice.

A key to the suc­cess of treat­ment is to com­mence it promptly at the first in­di­ca­tion of ad­verse clin­i­cal signs.

If these steps were fol­lowed I would hope that you would en­joy a trou­ble-free calv­ing sea­son.

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