Calf Scours

One of the most common questions we get asked at this time of year is “what can I use to treat calf scours?” To understand why the answer is not that simple you need to know a little about what causes scours and what calves are the most susceptible.


Scours occurs in calves less than 30 days of age and those that are the most susceptible are those who have inadequate colostrum intake. It is a complex, multifactorial disease that involves an interaction between the calf, its environment, nutritional factors and infectious agents. The infectious agents can either be bacterial, viral, protozoal or a mix. It is not possible to accurately diagnose, on observation, which of the above infections is the likely causes of any particular case of diarrhoea. This explains why antibiotics do not always work to stop the diarrhoea as antibiotics will not be effective in viral cases. The main viruses, coronavirus and rotavirus, are commonly shed in the faeces of healthy cattle and therefore all calves will be naturally exposed.


Regardless of the cause once the diarrhoea has established, a negative cycle of dehydration and electrolyte loss leads to the progressive debilitation of the calf. Treatment can be very successful if initiated early and done correctly. All cases are different and some may need more invasive therapy than others to re-establish normal fluid levels. If scours is a problem in your herd this spring please call Gunnedah Veterinary Hospital to discuss before it becomes an economical disaster.