Calf Scours

Calf scours is a broad, descriptive term that is used to connote diarrhea in calves. It is often caused by a plethora of factors and can be stopped before escalating into a fatal ailment. So today, we are going to have a look at what causes scours, symptoms, types, treatment, and some preventive measures one ought to look out for when treating a scouring calf.




Scours is often caused when there isn’t a free flow of water going in and out of the calf’s digestive tracts. When this happens, it causes the calf to lose lots of water, thus becoming dehydrated. And given that a calf’s diarrhea is often made up of body salts and fluid, it could cause an excessive weakness in the calf, which could lead to an untimely death.



  • Dehydration 
  • Loopy ears
  • Becomes less active 
  • Blood Sugar level reduces 
  • Electrolytes level reduces 
  • Weakness
  • Sunken eyes
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea 



1. Non- infectious Scouring (nutritional scours)

This scour stage in calves, often occur when a calf rarer decides to make some changes to a calf’s regular diet. The fever temperature of the calf during this stage always ranges between 38-39.5oC. However, even though it’s never a fatal health problem during this stage, it can weaken the calf and cause it to be more prone to the type of scours known as infectious diarrhea.  

2. Infectious Scouring 

Bacteria, viruses, and protozoa mainly cause this form of calf’s diarrhea. Thus, it is highly pivotal for a cattle rarer to spot the infectious agent responsible for diarrheas soon as possible, so that they could come up with potent preventive measures that will stop it from escalating into the next phase. The fever temperature of the calf during this stage, always range between 39.5-42oC.

3. Mild to moderate Scouring

This form of scours causes a calf to become weak and lay down often. It also causes it to have sunken eyes, and become about 8-10% dehydrated. Thus, a cattle rarer to keep feeding the infected calf with milk, include some electrolyte directly into the milk diet, and water ad-lib. Oral electrolyte, most notably, is natural to feed and highly potent in treating diarrhea.

4. Moderate/severe Scouring

This is often the worst kind of calf scours, as it causes their water, sugar, and electrolytes level to drop down to the least point. Plus, it flattens their skin, makes them be more than 10% dehydrated, and succinctly gets them into comatose. As a calf rarer, what you’ll have to do is that on the first day, feed the calf with electrolyte in the morning, milk during lunchtime, and electrolyte again in the evening.

On the second day, feed the calf with milk in the morning, electrolyte during lunchtime, and again milk in the evening. Repeat the same for the third day, and alternate until the calf’s feces become solid. 

5. Blood Scouring 

This is a scour that often includes blood in diarrhea. If this happens, the chances are that the calf is maybe suffering from coccidia. 



Preventive Measures

  • As soon as you spot any of the symptoms, isolate them to sickbay immediately because it is highly contagious like covid-19.
  • If it gets to the infectious stage, it’d be ideal for you to reach out to your vet. 
  • Every calf (even those being treated) needs to have clean, fresh ad-lib access to water.
  • Calf’s bedding should be clean regularly.
  • Refrain from using homebrew electrolyte composites, as they are less potent in treating Scouring, as a result of the deficiency in an adequate proportion of salts and energy. Instead, you can use a 10g NaCl (common salt), a 5g NaHCO3 (bicarbonate of soda), 250g glucose (or dextrose), or 5 liters of warm water.



Overall, the best possible treatment for calf scours is to rehydrate the calf with electrolytes, yogurt, or colostrum. 

If you’re going to feed the calf with yogurt, avoid feeding it at the same time with milk or after giving it milk. Instead, you can choose to rehydrate it with yogurt in the morning, and later milk during lunchtime.


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