The second key to preventing scours, Hill says, is minimizing exposure to the disease. Viruses, bacteria and protozoa cause infectious diarrhea and are virtually everywhere on the dairy. Hill identifies these essential areas to focus on to minimize exposure to these pathogens:
• Maternity pens – keep maternity areas clean and remove calves immediately from the cow and the calving pen. Both are significant sources of disease for a newborn.
• Nursing – do not allow the calf to nurse from its mother – the surface of the cow’s teats likely is contaminated and can expose the calf to scours-causing pathogens. Johne’s-positive cows also put the calf at risk.
• Hutches – place the calf in a dry, clean, individual hutch. Do not allow contact with feces, urine or nasal discharge from other calves, including the last calf to use the hutch.
• Feeding equipment – feed calves with clean, properly-stored colostrum in bottles and buckets that have been thoroughly washed, disinfected and dried.
Hill says that an effective scours prevention program is critical to the success of raising healthy calves, and it’s worth the investment in developing and maintaining protocols. “Raising calves is not a place to cut corners. They are the future of your dairy and worth the extra effort in giving them the best protection against scours and other diseases. Take the time to determine how you can do more to maximize immunity and minimize exposure to raise healthier, more productive calves,” says Hill.