Addressing neonatal calf diarrhea
Neonatal calf diarrhea, also referred to as calf scours, is a common disease affecting newborn calves. An interaction of several factors such as lack of colostrum, poor nutrition and environmental distresses can cause diarrhea and other clinical signs of NCD.
Diarrhea or scouring occurs when the capability of the intestine to absorb fluid is impaired. This interference may be due to damage to the cells lining the intestine and other infectious agents that are producing toxins that cause the cell lining of the intestine to produce fluid rather than absorb it.
Signs and effects of neonatal calf diarrhea:
In the beginning stages the animal is alert; however, as NCD progresses, the animal may begin to refuse feed, become depressed and weak to the point where he or she is unable to stand. Soiling of the hindquarters and tail are common. Dehydration is also a result of severe diarrhea.
Common causes of NCD include bacteria--E. coli and Salmonella--and viruses--rotavirus, which appears suddenly and spreads rapidly through the calf herd, and Coronavirus, which affects calves over 1 week of age.
--Prompt replacement of water and electrolytes can help reestablish homeostasis and allow the calf the opportunity to recover.
--Work closely with the herd veterinarian or other health care professional to develop a treatment plan for the calf or herd affected by E. coli and Salmonella.
--Regular observation of calves several times a day will permit early detection of the disease.
--Reduce exposure to infectious agents.
--Keep calves in single calf pens for at least the first month.
--Keep pens clean and dry.
--Keep calves isolated from healthy calves and fed last.
--Keep feeding utensils sanitized after each use.
--Provide resistance for the calf.
--Colostrum equaling 10 percent of the calf's body weight should be fed within the first two hours of life.
--Colostrum should be free of blood, debris and disease.
--Develop a vaccination program with your herd veterinarian.
Prompt replacement of water and electrolytes can help reestablish homeostasis and allow the calf the opportunity to recover.