Development and causes of diarrhoea in calves

Effects of diarrhoea in calf rearing

Diarrhoeal diseases are among the most economically significant calf diseases. In the first weeks of life, they account for about 75-80% of all calf diseases (BOTHMER and BUDDE, 1992; BRÄNDLE, 2006).

Infectious diseases occur when the pathogen-immune system balance tips: The immune system is weakened or the pathogens are too many / too strong.
diarrhoea pathogen graphic

Risk factors for diarrhoea

  • Lack of hygiene
  • Many calves in a confined space
  • Biestmilch < 22 % Brix
  • < 4 litres of colostrum in the first 6 hours of life
  • Stress (heat, draught, ...)

Prophylaxis: How to keep calves healthy

  • Hygiene
  • Biestmilch management
  • Avoiding stress
  • Vaccination
  • Globigen (IgY)

Typical diarrhoeal pathogens:

diarrhoea pathogen graphic

Tips from practice:

  • Freshly born calves should only be housed in clean, freshly bedded calf hutches or calf pens.
  • The colostrum quality should be determined before watering. Only feed high-quality colostrum!
  • If the colostrum quality is not sufficient, a colostrum enhancer should be used.
  • If not enough colostrum is absorbed by the calf, a drencher can be used.
  • Allocate a fixed drinking bucket to each calf.
  • When buying drinking buckets, make sure that they are easy to clean
  • Change the teat after each calf
  • Use a rapid test to detect the pathogen