Sometimes it’s yellow, green, or brown but it’s always runny watery poop- scours. Just about every calf that we have raised on a bottle at sometimes in its life has had scours. Many times it happens to several of our calves at the same time, which is one problem of rising a bunch of different calves together. By different, I mean from different places and different ages. Some calves we have came from one pasture while others may come from a pasture thirty miles away. We will buy a few from the livestock auctions and others came from a rancher that might be up to fifty miles from us. No matter the breed or ware a baby calf is from, chances are it will get the scours.
I have heard that some raiser often will not treat their calves for scours, just let it run it’s course and the scours will clear up on its own. With as many calves, as we have on the bottle at one time, this won’t work for us. One of these babies starts pooping brown water, the next one a start the next day and so on. Just left unchecked after the watery poop will just keep on showing up for us. We like to go ahead a treat scours, and with the calves nursing bottles it not hard to do.
With all the choices of products on the market for the treatment of scours, it’s not hard at all. Many of these products can be mixed right in the nurse bottle with milk replacer and given to the little one during its normal feeding. You can ask at you local feed store or vet supply shop and find the top choices of products for your area.
We like to use a powdered antibiotic that will mix right in the bottle with the milk replacer. Just put a little pinch in each bottle for every calf we want to treat, once a day for two or three days, and let the calf nurse it right down. In a case of scours that is real bad, then we will give the calf an antibiotic bolus (big pill).
All you have to do is get the calf to sallow this big pill or two, one time, at any time of the day. This can be easier said then done. A bolus applicator works real well for getting a calf to sallow this big tablet. This applicator looks like a long plastic stick with a ring at one end and a slot for the pill at the other. Place the bolus in the slot to hold it in place, and then place the applicator in the calf’s mouth with the bolus first. Just right pass the tongue of the calf, in the back of the mouth and down the throat push on the ring end and place the pill. The calf will then sallow the pill right down. You got to watch so the calf doesn’t spit out the bolus, if it does just try again. The first attempt is a little tricky, but soon it goes fairly smooth.
Once you have treated a calf for scours it will take about three to five days before the poop hardens up. If what you have tried didn’t work, check with a veterinary there is a good chance that some other problems exist. If you got any questions are doubts about what you doing, ask a veterinary. We have been rising calves on a bottle so long that we know what each color, smell, and how watery the poop is, that we know illness poops from a change in feed poops.
When a calf’s feed- cow’s milk, grass, hay, sweet feed, creep, milk replacer and other gain feeds changes the poop will change also, and might get runny a first. So know if there been any change in the calf’s diet, even new weeds that might have came up (with each rain something new will usually grow). This minor scours from a change in feed will get better a little every day, so let time take care of these runs.
Always read the label of any medication, that you are going to give any animal. Ask a veterinary any questions you may have. We have been looking after calves for some time and scours are usually not serious but should have some concern. Now bloody scours which are red in color and sometimes blackish, are very serious and a veterinary should look at the calf soon. A calf with bloody scours is very ill from birth defects to physical trauma. In many of these cases the calf won’t survive. I have seen some calves heal from bloody scours with a lot of care and even more luck. There is a condition in cattle called coccidiosis (bloody scours) which is a parasite that infects the intestine. This condition takes time to develop; the parasite has to do enough damage for blood to show in the feces, so a week old calf wouldn’t be affected by this. Physical trauma is what I believe is the leading cause of bloody feces in baby calves.
Often a calf will be stepped on by a cow accidentally while the calf is lying down. This can happen very easy in a trailer during transport. If a seller at an auction ring brought in several cows and a newborn calf to be sold, then the calf will lie down on the floor of the trailer and easy stepped on. This could happen in an open pasture as well, a lot less chance, but could. In all, we have seen very few calves suffer from bloody scours this condition very rarely happens.