3 November 1995

Dirty fields make for scouring calves

CALVES born inside or in dirty fields tend to be more prone to scour in their first six weeks of life.

The warning is from Scottish Agricultural College vet Brian Hosie who cautions that bacteria, viruses and parasites build up as the calving season progresses.

"Prevention is best achieved by good calf hygiene, including plenty of bedding for those kept indoors, and by keeping cows with young calves away from those with older calves," he says.

Mr Hosie adds that cows fed supplements outside in one area allowing it to get dirty will increase the risk of calf scour infection.

"Cow nutrition is also important to ensure calves receive enough good quality colostrum," he says. "This must be given by stomach tube if necessary."

Mr Hosie advises having samples of scour tested to identify the type of infection responsible. The next step is to seek vet advice on fluid therapy and supportive treatment, specific to that type of scour.

&#8226 Mallinckrodt is offering free sample bottles and instructions on how to take clean samples.

Company vet Peter Williams says samples need taking quickly when the primary causing bugs are still active in the calfs stomach – otherwise the result may show a secondary infection such as E.coli.