MSD educates on improving the management of costly calf scour problems

MSD Animal Health has launched a suite of educational materials to help calf rearers and their advisers improve the management of costly scour problems.

The materials encourage a focus on three key areas for improved, sustained disease control: maximising calf immunity; identifying any causal agents and how to effectively manage an outbreak of calf scour on farm.

Dr Kat Baxter-Smith, MSD Animal Health’s veterinary adviser said: “Even with good disease prevention protocols in place, calf scour outbreaks can still occur. But when they do, remedial action should focus on these three key areas to resolve the outbreak as quickly as possible and reduce the chances of another costly event happening in the future.”

Calf scour is highly prevalent on UK farms and the most common cause of morbidity and mortality during the pre-weaning period.

According to a 2020 survey of more than 300 farms, over 80% of UK calf rearing units had seen a case of scour in the previous 12 months; with 50% of farms admitting to experiencing calf deaths due to the disease.

Costs are estimated at £57.94 per case but this does not include the longer-term impacts of the disease on future calf productivity.

Dr Baxter-Smith said that when it comes to maximising calf immunity, quality colostrum provision and dam vaccination are the foundations of better scour control.

She said: “Only feed plenty of good quality colostrum checked with either a colostrometer or Brix refractometer. Boosting colostrum quality by dam vaccination can also help maximise the protection colostrum is able to give to the calf.

“However, if you do still have to deal with a calf scour outbreak, identifying any causal pathogens is also important. This will guide subsequent treatment, management and appropriate longer-term disease prevention strategies.”

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