Coopers Couch E4: The tougher the season, the higher the potential for scours

The tougher the season, the higher the potential for scours

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Sponsored Content: Calf scours costs the industry more than $23 million per year. Vet Steph Bullen explains how you can protect your herd.


Story sponsored by Coopers Animal Health.

The Gippsland region in Victoria is one of the single most important districts for Australia’s agricultural sector. 

Famous for its rolling green country side, the local dairy industry produces more than a fifth of all milk in the domestic market and contributes billions of dollars a year to the national economy.

That’s why Denison based vet Steph Bullen is advising many of her clients to adhere to strict management plans in the lead up to calving to ensure better outcomes for animal health.

It’s especially important, she says, to vaccinate the female herd with Coopers Bovilis Rotavec Corona before they’re set to give birth. 

“Controlling calf scours is all about prevention and that means managing the cow in the lead up to calving,” she explained. 

“Calves are essentially born without an immune system. They derive all of their immunity from the colostrum they receive from their mothers and the supplementary colostrum given by farmers within 12 hours of birth. So, you need to make sure the cow is well prepared so they can produce the best possible colostrum for immunity.”

Calf scours is a major problem. The Victorian Farmer’s Federation estimate the disease costs the industry $23 million per year (across southern Australia), placing it in the top 10 economic diseases of cattle.

It is thought around 80 per cent of farms have at least one case per year with 20 per cent of farms experiencing rates of up to 15 to 30 per cent of calves affected.

A severe case of scours (diarrhoea) can lead to dehydration, malnutrition and in some cases, death

The key cause of scours is inadequate colostrum intake, either in quantity, quality or not being ingested quickly (within 12-24 hours of birth is recommended).

That’s why, Ms Bullen says, vaccination is important to ensure colostrum is high quality and contains the right ingredients to combat calf scours.

“Generally speaking, as soon as animals become nutritionally challenged all diseases tend to rear their heads a little bit more,” she said.

It’s essential to ensure the colostrum is high in immune cells and proteins.

Bovilis Rotavec Corona helps protect against scours caused by enterotoxigenic E.coli pilus type K99; bovine rotaviruses G6 and G10; neonatal enterotoxemia caused by Cl. prefringens Type C and D; and neonatal calf diarrhoea caused by bovine coronaviruses.

According to Agriculture Victoria, up to 40 per cent of calves do not absorb sufficient antibodies within the first 12 to 24 hours of life because of inadequate attention to their colostrum feeding. As such, they’re far more likely to succumb to scours.

They say the quality of colostrum should be routinely monitored and calves not seen drinking must be fed colostrum within their first 6 hours of life.

Other key management strategies include ensuring the calves are not exposed to extreme climates, avoiding over crowding, stress reduction with routine activities, maintaining strict hygiene by sterilising feeding utensils and being on the look out for early signs of scours so you can react quickly.

“I would certainly recommend Bovilis Rotavec Corona,” Ms Bullen said.

“It’s not a silver bullet – there is no one injection that is a fix all for all problems – but… It’s an important piece of the puzzle…

“Using Bovilis Rotavec Corona as part of an overall calf management plan has been demonstrated to produce significant improvements.”

Story sponsored by Coopers Animal Health.

The story Coopers Couch E4: The tougher the season, the higher the potential for scours first appeared on The Land.