One of the major economic losses producers face each spring is diarrhea in young calves. The problem usually occurs when calves are less than one month of age. Some calves die of scours and others may recover with treatment, but all cost your operation time and money.

Decreasing the dose of pathogens that calves are exposed to can prevent calf scours. Isolation and sanitation are the keys to scour control. By concentrating on certain areas of management you can accomplish these goals for successful calf diarrhea prevention.

* Calve heifers early. Calves born to first-calf heifers are more susceptible to disease. Calving them early and in clean areas prevents the build up of pathogens that can occur in the main cowherd.
* Try to calve during a time of year when conditions are good. Bugs thrive in wet and muddy environments and calves do not.
* Avoid feeding young calves hay. This concentrates the cattle and their feces on the hay feeding areas and increases the dose of bacteria and viruses. Set aside fields or pastures with adequate forage to use during the first two weeks of your calves’ life. Feeding soybean (or cottonseed) meal with 30 percent salt as a supplement during this time also can help eliminate the dangers of diarrhea.
* Do not bring in outside cattle. Importing new cattle during the calving period is dangerous. Bringing in dairy calves for cows that lost a calf can lead to a disastrous calf scours outbreak. These calves can bring in diseases that your cattle may have never been exposed to and have no immunity against.
* Use strict sanitation when treating. Treat sick calves only after handling all healthy calves. Disinfect all balling guns and use disposable gloves and wash clothes after treating scouring calves. You can carry many of these pathogens on you and your equipment making you part of the outbreak and not the cure.
* Isolate sick calves and their mothers. Providing a separate "sick" field or area for treatment will decrease the build-up of pathogens for the main cowherd.