Scour is the biggest killer of calves on farms under one-month-of-age and with calves arriving thick and fast onto autumn-calving farms keeping calves healthy is a priority.

Unfortunately livestock will become sick in many cases which places a large amount of stress on farmers.

Cases can be reduced by having high standards of hygiene in the calf shed, including clean feeders, footbath at entrance and not wearing visible soiled clothes into the shed.


Most cases of scour can be attributed to poor hygiene in the calf house and feeding equipment.

Ideally feeding equipment should be cleaned after each use and stored where calves do not have access.

Nutritional scour can be caused by several things such as insufficient colostrum after birth, too much milk and or milk replacer being too concentrated, lumpy or not mixed properly.

Another factor that can cause cases is lack of consistent feeding of calves, such as feeding different amounts or at irregular times.

Cold, damp, draughty or humid housing can also cause susceptibility to scour.

Infectious scours

Infectious scours are caused by a number of pathogens. All scour outbreaks should be investigated early by consulting your vet who can arrange for faecal samples to be sent to a lab.

This will help to identify the pathogen causing the problem and means you can develop a targeted treatment plan for the pathogen. Some vets will offer a quick diagnostic faecal sample test on farm.

Pathogens are often picked up from the environment, so lack of cleanliness in the calving area and in the calf rearing house are major risk factors.

Any calf that develops scour should be isolated from the other calves immediately.

Always isolate infected calves in a warm environment and treat them for the pathogen causing the scour.

If calf scour is, or has been, an issue you should develop a vaccination programme and create a future prevention health plan.