Calf scour

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Looked into doing the Rotavec Corona vaccine here, but according to the paperwork it only provides protection while feeding cows milk, for 2-4 weeks. Heifer calves here are straight onto powder after 8L colostrum over 2 feeds.
we acidify the colostrum, and store it, so presumably rota vac is fed right through, hadn't thought of it quite like that. And we very seldom tube a calf, they go straight onto colostrum,
 

jimmer

Member
Location
East Devon
Disagree with rotavec comments on experience here, it works for us even if only on whole milk for a few days
We pick calves up once a day, allowing them to suckle dams if they want, hungry calves are then fed colostrum through a teat, never bagged, non hungry calves are fed 12 hours later, again only ever on a teat
No scours, no deaths, no stress
 
I have it in my mind , but may be wrong, that although the antibodies in the colostrum can't pass through the gut wall very well, if at all, after a couple of days they will still work on bugs directly in the gut. So it is my belief that colostrum still has positive benefits once the gut wall has closed down. Reinforcing the strength of colostrum by vaccination is therefore of longer term benefit IMO . I may be wrong.
 

coomoo

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Scotland
Disagree with rotavec comments on experience here, it works for us even if only on whole milk for a few days
We pick calves up once a day, allowing them to suckle dams if they want, hungry calves are then fed colostrum through a teat, never bagged, non hungry calves are fed 12 hours later, again only ever on a teat
No scours, no deaths, no stress
Going bold there in the last sentence tonight
 

In the pit

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
Pembrokeshire
Sounds like ecoli and if it is they will have picked it up at birth and not much you can do about it
Had it this year in calves 3 weeks old up one day dead the next
Vet cut open one which had just died and ecoli in its intestine which the vet said had been building since birth
Vet recommended rotavec vaccine before next calving to boost colostrum quality even though we only feed once before powder milk
Also recommended putting colostrum tester in the bin as they are a waste of time
 

Stinker

Member
Our sample results always came back as rotavirus but it was only when I started using halocur for crypto that the problems went away so maybe crpto is harder to pick up in a snap test.

In my experience you have to jump on scour quick with electrolytes. If in doubt pinch the loose skin on the shoulder of every calf when feeding. It's should ping back. If that ping is slow then its dehydrated. The slower it is the more dehydrated. If slow you need to give electrolytes even if you can't see the scour. Also some electrolytes can't be fed with milk so best to give them mid day and last thing at night in my experience. Carry on feeding milk as normal
 

Dead Rabbits

Member
Location
'Merica
I think you are on the right track with what you are doing. It’s been my experience that testing can be less straightforward than you might think. It’s definitely a good start.

Our “protocol”. Heifers vaccinated with scourguard 4kc 8 weeks prior to calving then again with the cows two-three weeks prior to calving. Give 5ml of multi min each time.

Springer herd gets .6lb per head per day of a mineral mix in their ration. When she calves we brix test the colostrum and keep anything over 24. Below grade colostrum is also kept to be fed for the first two feedings or more depending on supply. Colostrum is a superfood even if they can’t absorb anything from it later on a little goes a long way.Calf is tubed with 2-3 liters as soon as we can do it, spray the navel with iodine. I’d prefer to not tube them but that’s just not realistic. These are not Holsteins. Some could take 4 liters no problem, others would drown at 3.

At first feeding after tubing we go straight to 10 teat feeders with cows milk and group pens of 18. Calves eat as much as they can each feeding, no volume limits once they are a couple days old. No straw, just wood chip is used in initial pens which are in a too small barn not designed for calves. Calves will be vaccinated with inforce 3 within a week of birth and 1ml multi min. As soon as they are drinking strong and the weather agrees they go to groups of 40 in a different barn that has straw and an outside run. They will be fed on a 50 teat trailed feeder. If weather is good they skip this and go straight to the paddock which may or may not have a small run in shed to be used in bad weather. Barns are a necessary evil in bad weather, to be avoided where possible.

We clean feeders twice per day but they are all moved between groups. Don’t really sanitize between groups. We feed cows milk cold or at variable temperatures. We pool colostrum. It can get down to -20 then be +18 within 3 days. Cows calve outside in less than ideal conditions etc. We do a lot of stuff wrong but it works as long as the protocol is followed. Have just under 300 heifers retained so far this season and had 1 dead. She bloated at about 3 weeks old. Several ear infections, I think 3. Don’t know what causes that.

I really think allowing a calf to drink as much as it can solves a hell of a lot of problems. Around the 4-6 week mark we dial it back so they will eat a bit more grain and move to OAD. Wean at 100 kg no exceptions unless it’s to allow them to grow bigger. Age is irrelevant.


Many things can cause a calf to die but I’d bet a lot of money that most younguns die of dehydration. If they arent drinking or are badly scouring we give electrolytes and raw eggs plus as much lactated ringers as you think the calf needs injected under the skin. That was a game changer when I figured that out. I don’t really know what the hell halocur is but we can’t get it here when I looked years ago.

Every farm will be different but if you can figure out a few things that work for you then progress can be made. Then one day everything may just go to sh!t just when you think you have it figured. The best laid plans are of mice and men.
 

Jdunn55

Member
Sounds like ecoli and if it is they will have picked it up at birth and not much you can do about it
Had it this year in calves 3 weeks old up one day dead the next
Vet cut open one which had just died and ecoli in its intestine which the vet said had been building since birth
Vet recommended rotavec vaccine before next calving to boost colostrum quality even though we only feed once before powder milk
Also recommended putting colostrum tester in the bin as they are a waste of time
Thanks I'll ask about ecoli
 

Jdunn55

Member
Disagree with rotavec comments on experience here, it works for us even if only on whole milk for a few days
We pick calves up once a day, allowing them to suckle dams if they want, hungry calves are then fed colostrum through a teat, never bagged, non hungry calves are fed 12 hours later, again only ever on a teat
No scours, no deaths, no stress
I would like nothing more than to leave the calf on the cow but we aren't flying and johnes risk is too great for me.
I agree regarding teat feeding calves, detest tubing calves and would rather spend 15 minutes getting a calf to drink from a bottle, doesn't always work and some do need tubing, plus anything born late at night when I can't be bothered to wait will get tubed but I try my best not to use it
 

Jdunn55

Member
Thanks everyone, I'll wait and see what comes of today first, regarding colostrum I'll give them 3 litres within two hours from now on and another litre or 2 (depending on their size) a couple of hours later

Regarding rotavec, there seems to be a split opinion on here as to whether it's worth doing or whether I would be wasting my money because I don't feed colostrum/cows milk for more than the first 6 hours, I'll speak with the vet and see what they say and go from there
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
I think you are on the right track with what you are doing. It’s been my experience that testing can be less straightforward than you might think. It’s definitely a good start.

Our “protocol”. Heifers vaccinated with scourguard 4kc 8 weeks prior to calving then again with the cows two-three weeks prior to calving. Give 5ml of multi min each time.

Springer herd gets .6lb per head per day of a mineral mix in their ration. When she calves we brix test the colostrum and keep anything over 24. Below grade colostrum is also kept to be fed for the first two feedings or more depending on supply. Colostrum is a superfood even if they can’t absorb anything from it later on a little goes a long way.Calf is tubed with 2-3 liters as soon as we can do it, spray the navel with iodine. I’d prefer to not tube them but that’s just not realistic. These are not Holsteins. Some could take 4 liters no problem, others would drown at 3.

At first feeding after tubing we go straight to 10 teat feeders with cows milk and group pens of 18. Calves eat as much as they can each feeding, no volume limits once they are a couple days old. No straw, just wood chip is used in initial pens which are in a too small barn not designed for calves. Calves will be vaccinated with inforce 3 within a week of birth and 1ml multi min. As soon as they are drinking strong and the weather agrees they go to groups of 40 in a different barn that has straw and an outside run. They will be fed on a 50 teat trailed feeder. If weather is good they skip this and go straight to the paddock which may or may not have a small run in shed to be used in bad weather. Barns are a necessary evil in bad weather, to be avoided where possible.

We clean feeders twice per day but they are all moved between groups. Don’t really sanitize between groups. We feed cows milk cold or at variable temperatures. We pool colostrum. It can get down to -20 then be +18 within 3 days. Cows calve outside in less than ideal conditions etc. We do a lot of stuff wrong but it works as long as the protocol is followed. Have just under 300 heifers retained so far this season and had 1 dead. She bloated at about 3 weeks old. Several ear infections, I think 3. Don’t know what causes that.

I really think allowing a calf to drink as much as it can solves a hell of a lot of problems. Around the 4-6 week mark we dial it back so they will eat a bit more grain and move to OAD. Wean at 100 kg no exceptions unless it’s to allow them to grow bigger. Age is irrelevant.


Many things can cause a calf to die but I’d bet a lot of money that most younguns die of dehydration. If they arent drinking or are badly scouring we give electrolytes and raw eggs plus as much lactated ringers as you think the calf needs injected under the skin. That was a game changer when I figured that out. I don’t really know what the hell halocur is but we can’t get it here when I looked years ago.

Every farm will be different but if you can figure out a few things that work for you then progress can be made. Then one day everything may just go to sh!t just when you think you have it figured. The best laid plans are of mice and men.
rather different to what we do. You have hugely bigger numbers, but the key point, you have a protocol, and that's the important part.
Know a large dairy, relying on E Europe labour, they have a white board, with exact stages for each calf. And things can still go badly wrong.

Calf mortality is high in the UK, and there is serious room for improvement, and the lack of routine, and time, is, along with environment, the major cause. We feed colostrum pretty well right through the 'milk' stage, block calving, and acidifying colostrum, makes that easy and cheap, one advantage, we never tube a calf, unless a real reason. One disadvantage with feeding colostrum, its so rich, we have to limit it to 4l day, in 2 feeds, so dehydration is a risk, we individually pen each calf, fresh water is available from day 1, we fill the buckets, so we know what each calf drinks.

Interested in why you multi min jab, we bolus each cow at drying off, along with worm and fluke, and dry cows/hfrs have a dry cow min tub available. There is a school of thought, that we shouldn't worm cows, as a routine treatment. Certainly dry cow management impacts +ve or -ve on calf vitality. We also vaccinate each cow/hfr with rota corona.

Its interesting to see how others rear calves, its an area which can always be improved, and is also a subject that can improve financial matters. We have a local lady, that just does the calves, nothing else, an expense which is easily recovered by better calves, esp beef ones, and very low mortality, currently 2%, 1 just died on day 2, the other a jersey bull calf, which we just euthanised.
 

som farmer

Member
Livestock Farmer
Location
somerset
Thanks everyone, I'll wait and see what comes of today first, regarding colostrum I'll give them 3 litres within two hours from now on and another litre or 2 (depending on their size) a couple of hours later

Regarding rotavec, there seems to be a split opinion on here as to whether it's worth doing or whether I would be wasting my money because I don't feed colostrum/cows milk for more than the first 6 hours, I'll speak with the vet and see what they say and go from there
why do you only feed colostrum for 6 hrs ? Surely with your low numbers you could easily feed more, its really a superdrug, with all its advantages. And how much powder do you feed them, l don't think the 'recommended' mixing rates, have kept up with modern calf requirements, last time l looked, they hadn't changed from 30 yrs ago, but calves have.
Rota vac was a game changer for us, its quite obvious if we 'missed' a cow. When we reared bought in calves, each calf had a 5 day course of aurofac, in the milk, whether that, or similar, is still available, l don't know, certainly worked then.
But l think feeding more colostrum, for you, might help a lot, that and routine ! Calves are hard little things, they were 'designed' by nature, to live outside, they don't need mollycoddling, just dry beds, shelter, and a draught free corner.
 

Stinker

Member
We started using multi min last year at 24 hours old. The improvement was very obvious to see. I think I jabbed 1 calf for navel ill out of 500. Zero pneumonia and a handful of scours. We never loose more than 1 or 2 but last year was so easy in comparison.
 

Dead Rabbits

Member
Location
'Merica
It’s sh!t to have to experience that. Would be interested to hear what vet has to say. Sounds like something along the lines of crypto.

Are the ones that are dying still drinking right up till they go?
 

Jdunn55

Member
It’s sh!t to have to experience that. Would be interested to hear what vet has to say. Sounds like something along the lines of crypto.

Are the ones that are dying still drinking right up till they go?
No they stop drinking about a day maybe 2 days before qnd then I start tubing them, this one that's about to die is also bloated

Absolutely gutted, everything had been going so well until now qnd thought I was finally doing a somewhat decent job
 

Dead Rabbits

Member
Location
'Merica
No they stop drinking about a day maybe 2 days before qnd then I start tubing them, this one that's about to die is also bloated

Absolutely gutted, everything had been going so well until now qnd thought I was finally doing a somewhat decent job
Ask your vet about injecting lactated ringers under the skin. When they get like that where you have to tube them they can’t seem to retain any water.
 

Is Red tractor detrimental to your mental health?

  • Yes, Red tractor increase my stress and anxiety

    Votes: 286 97.9%
  • No, Red tractor gives me peace of mind that the product I produce is safe to enter the food chain

    Votes: 6 2.1%

HSENI names new farm safety champions

  • 125
  • 0
Written by William Kellett from Agriland

Farm-safety-640x360.png
The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...
Top