Low temperatures, high winds and heavy snowfall can place extra stress on cows and their newborn calves this winter. When calves are stressed their immune system is weakened and the likelihood of a scours outbreak increases. Having a prevention program in place can help minimize losses and possibly prevent scours from hitting the entire herd.

Bacteria, viruses and parasites are the primary causes of calf scours, while harsh weather conditions, poor sanitation, inadequate colostrum, poor physical condition, nutritional problems and difficult calving can increase the risk of an outbreak. The following tips can help to prevent and lessen the impact of scours on your herd.

* Vaccinate pregnant cows against the calf scour organisms. This passive immunity will help protect newborn calves. But follow label indications for timing of vaccine.

* Keep the calving area and equipment as clean as possible.

* Clean and disinfect treatment equipment between animals to reduce the spread of disease organisms. This includes balling guns, esophageal probes, etc.

* Isolate scouring calves from healthy calves. Separate replacement heifers from the rest of the herd and move healthy cow-calf pairs to clean, open pasture if the weather permits.

* Move cow-calf pairs from the precalving herd to a post calving herd as soon as possible after calving. This will prevent the contamination of the noncalved cow's legs and udders with calf feces and scours organisms.

* Have electrolyte solution, scour tablets and other nutritional supplements on hand in case of an outbreak.