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Calf scours is the most common symptom of illness in young calves and is usually a problem in the first month of life. The scour can be white, yellow, grey or blood-stained, and is often foul smelling. Scours can be caused by many organisms and more than one causative agent can be present in one animal. Viruses such as rotavirus, protozoa, bacteria such as salmonella and E-coli can cause problems, as well as internal parasites. Whatever the cause of the scour, the lining of the bowel is damaged, resulting in the loss of large amounts of body fluid into the gut. As a result, the calf quickly dehydrates, electrolytes become unbalanced, energy reserves are depleted and the calf may develop shock and die.


The treatment of scours in calves should aim to replace lost body fluids, correct the electrolyte imbalance, and supply energy. Oral electrolyte solutions provide balanced sources of salts and can be fed up to 6 times a day and is best fed at room temperature . However, the energy they provide is not adequate, so continue to feed to the calf its normal milk or milk replacer. Most scours have a non-bacterial cause, so antibiotics don’t play much of a role. Any calves treated with antibiotics have to withheld from sales until the meat residues have disappeared.

Recommended management practices for preventing the onset of calf scours include the following:

  • Ensure newborn calves receive at least 2L colostrum within 12 hours of birth.

  • Clean feeding equipment thoroughly after each use
  • House calves in a warm dry, well ventilated clean location and clean housing regularly. Rotate paddocks.

  • Provide adequate nutrition.

  • Avoid an abrupt change of milk replacer.

  • Immediately quarantine all new cases of scours for 7 days.

  • Seek medical advice from Mudgee Veterinary Hospital as soon as possible.

Lastest News


Here are some photos of a horse that had multiple sarcoids (5 in total).

This case was successfully treated, and the horse is sarcoid free