Prevent scours with vaccination and other prevention measures

Implement protocols for vaccination, colostrum management and nutrition to help prevent scours in your herd

4 Min Read

By Dr. David Prentice, DVM, Elanco Animal Health and Dr. W. Mark Hilton, DVM, Elanco Animal Health

Scours is one of the main reasons for calf death and a major frustration to cow-calf producers. Having zero calves with scours is the attainable goal. Let's look at the most important prevention strategies.1-9

Calving Practices And Environment

If you are not 100% familiar with the Sandhills Calving System (SCS), google the term. It is an important step in prevention of neonatal calf diarrhea. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have sandhills to make it work. Cows calve separately from first calf heifers and after calving cows for ~2 weeks, move the cows yet to calve to a new paddock so those calves are born in a ‘clean’ environment. Keep doing this until calving season is complete.

Not only are calves born onto ‘fresh’ ground, but we have segregated calves by age so there is less spread of disease organisms from older calves to the newborns.

Nutrition, Vaccination And Passive Immunity Through Colostrum

Nutrition is vitally important not only for the cow, but also the developing fetus, and epigenetics is an emerging science that we will certainly hear more about in the future.10 Proper nutrition for your cows will result in benefits to your calves. Don’t cut corners on cow nutrition.

Vaccination of your herd is not only important for cow health but also for the calf’s health. Vaccinating dams for scours should be an annual event to increase the immunoglobulins present in colostrum so that first meal the calf ingests is full of protection against the bugs that cause scours. Producers should consider vaccinating with Scour Bos® as it has a wide window of administration at 8-16 weeks prior to calving. This makes it convenient for producers and provides a longer window of time for antibodies to be generated and transferred to the colostrum.

Colostrum is critically important to calf health, and although beef cows may not make as much colostrum as a dairy cow, their colostrum tends to be more concentrated in IgG immunoglobins.11 Proper cow nutrition helps to improve colostrum quality production.

Recent research with Scour Bos in dairy cattle resulted in higher colostral antibody levels against Bovine Coronavirus and Bovine Rotavirus compared to animals left unvaccinated or animals vaccinated with another leading scours vaccine.11 Animals were vaccinated with the two products according to label, and cows were sampled to determine the level of antibodies in the cow’s blood and in her colostrum.

Scour Bos has been shown to reduce the incidence of scours in calves caused by Bovine Coronavirus and Bovine Rotavirus, as well as Clostridium perfringens Type C and E. coli bacteria, which are the most common viral and bacterial causes of scours in cattle.

The keys to having zero scours this calving season include improving the calving environment, excellent nutrition and increasing colostral antibodies. Increase colostral antibodies to common causes of scours by using Scour Bos vaccines in your operation.

1 Armstrong J. Causes and prevention of beef calf scours. University of Minnesota Extension. 2019.

2 Van Emon M. Prevention, Treatment, and Control of Calf Scours. Montana State University.

3 Calf Scours 101: Basics of Calf Diarrhea for the Beef Cattle Producer. Colorado State University Veterinary Extension.

4 Villarroel A. Scours in Beef Calves. Oregon State University Extension Service. April 2009.

5 Dewell G, Cooper V. Control of Calf Diarrhea (Scours) in Midwest Beef Cattle Farms. Iowa State University Extension. February 2016.

6 Stokka G, Hoppe K, Block J and Crawford E. Diarrhea Can Be Deadly For Calves. North Dakota State University. 23 March, 2020.

7 Calf Scours: Causes, Prevention and Treatment. Texas A&M University. April 2012.

8 Tarpoff A. Management tips to reduce the impact of calf scours. Kansas State University Research And Extension. 28 February, 2019.

9 Gould K and Grooms D. Calf scours signs, treatment and prevention: Part 2. Michigan State University Extension. 28 February 2014.

10 Wang M, Ibeagha-Awemu EM. Impacts of epigenetic processes on the health and productivity of livestock. Frontiers in Genetics. 2020;11.

11 Elanco Animal Health. Data on file.

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