NT LLS: Increased Reports of Calf Scours

13th Sep 2019

Andrew Biddle, Northern Tablelands Local Land Services District Vet

It is hard enough to get cows in calf and calves on the ground at the moment so you don’t want to lose them now – be on the lookout for scours.

One of the realities of feeding stock is animals gathering around feeders, troughs and watering points. These areas have large quantities of manure and this manure contains many of the organisms that potentially cause scours.

Healthy adult stock carry a variety of micro-organisms in their intestines as part of their normal biome. If animals are immunocompromised due to stress such as poor nutrition or age (young or immature) they can develop scours if they come into contact with these organisms in manure.

Strategies to manage the risk of scours may include rotating or moving feed points periodically to reduce the build-up of manure.

Affected calves will often initially appear quiet or lethargic and hunched up. On closer inspection you may find soft or runny manure around the tail or down the backs of the calves’ hind legs. The colour could range from black to green, yellow or white.

Affected calves need to be treated urgently. Death is often due to dehydration and hot weather causes this to happen very quickly. Replacement oral fluids will be necessary and therapeutics to combat the organism involved may also be required. Treatment options should be discussed with your local veterinarian.

Samples of the scour can be submitted to the laboratory to assist in identifying the particular bug involved but treatment will be required before these results are usually available.

Some of these organisms can also cause illness and scouring in people. If you are handling animals or scouring calves be sure to wash hands with soap and water before handling food or eating.

For more information on scouring or any other animal health concerns please contact your Local Land Services District Veterinarian on 02 6732 8800 or veterinary practice.

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