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Calf Scours - Causative Agents of Calfhood Diarrhea

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 Developed by Rob Costello
Technical Specialist
Calf scours is a broad, descriptive term referring to diarrhea in calves. Calf scours is not a specific disease with a specific cause, but is actually a clinical sign of a disease complex with many possible causes.
Scours occur when normal movement of water into and out of the digestive tract is disrupted, resulting in water loss and dehydration. Loss of body fluids through diarrhea is accompanied by loss of body salts. This fluid and electrolyte loss produces a change in body chemistry that can lead to severe depression in the calf and eventual death. Rehydration therapy of scouring calves with water and supplemental electrolytes can help alleviate effects of dehydration and help restore a normal electrolyte balance. 
Noninfectious scours (nutritional scours) are usually caused by changes to the feeding program. While usually not severe enough to cause death, non-infectious scours can weaken the calf and make it more susceptible to infectious scours. Infectious scours are the biggest problem and are caused primarily by viruses, bacteria and protozoa. Identifying the infectious agent causing scours is an important part of developing a sound prevention program. 
View the PDF for a  more complete discussion of calf scours and the organisms that infect the digestive tract
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