Fall is a transition time in the cattle business. Unfortunately, transition equals stress for calves, which can result in increased incidence of disease. Dr. Nels Lindberg,
“We try to focus on variables we can manage,” he says. “We cannot control if calves were preconditioned or how long they spent on the truck, but one thing we can help prevent is coccidiosis.”
Dr. Lindberg explains that coccidiosis is commonly seen in beef calves. In fact, it is so common that it can affect calves from all environments and geographies,1 and the prevalence of infection can be up to 100%.2
“Coccidiosis is a stress-induced disease,” Dr. Lindberg says. “During the fall, calves are separated from their mothers, shipped and have to adjust to a new diet — all of which can be stressful, and a trigger for coccidiosis.”
For this reason, Dr. Lindberg recommends that his clients help calves fight coccidiosis as part of their receiving routines.
“With coccidiosis, it is important that we knock out the parasite quickly to help avoid the costly effects of the disease,” he says. “That is why I recommend that calves are given a coccidiostat on arrival, especially in starter yards or yards receiving high-risk or light-weight calves.”
Dr. Lindberg adds that most coccidiosis cases are subclinical, which adds another level of urgency to helping calves fight the disease. Research has shown that 95% of all cases are subclinical and are never diagnosed.3 If visible signs do occur, it is not until three to eight weeks after the initial infection. By then, much of the damage has already been done.1 Coccidia destroy the lining of the small intestine, which results in incomplete absorption of nutrients and electrolytes.3 The result is dehydration and reduced feed efficiency. One study showed a 30% reduction in feed efficiency in animals that were infected with coccidia.3
“A calf’s job during the stocker or early feeding phase is to stay healthy and gain efficiently,” says Dr. Joe Dedrickson, associate director, Merial Veterinary Services. “Coccidiosis can make both of those things next to impossible — resulting in decreased productivity that the calf may not be able to make up.”
Dr. Dedrickson adds that the good news is CORID® (amprolium) can be used as an aid in the prevention and treatment of coccidiosis, and it is available in multiple formulations.