Diarrhea in the calf: analyze all aspects of the disease


Diarrhea is familiar to many owners of cows, but it is in youngsters that this widespread phenomenon is extremely dangerous. The fact is that 60% of all deaths before the age of 3-4 weeks come precisely from this disease. At the same time in order to save the baby is very important to determine the cause of the disease.

Causes of the disease

It is no secret that diarrhea or just diarrhea is a disorder of the intestinal system, which is accompanied by a liquid stool. In calves, as a rule, this disease can be caused by:

  • unhealthy diet (consumption of large quantities of milk, abrupt change of feed, poor quality milk replacer);
  • infection - it is she who causes the death of most newborn calves. There is even a definite term - newborn diarrhea.

The most common cause of diarrhea in small calves are bacteria from the E. coli family, some viruses and cryptosporidia. If diarrhea arose immediately after birth, this is a sure sign of a violation of the sanitary and hygienic norms for keeping animals.

Bacteria enterotoxigenic strain E. coli

Diarrhea caused by E. coli bacteria infects newborn calves in all seasons, usually in the first 2-7 days of age. This infection is called Escherichiosis and is accompanied by severe diarrhea, rapid emaciation, septicemia, and death. As the statistics show, about 40-70% of calves become sick with colibacillosis and cause correct death without 100% of the calves.


Rotavirus infection affects calves between the ages of 2 and 6 days and is manifested by the appearance of apathy, refusal of food, fever and diarrhea. In diseased animals, the stool is liquid, watery, sometimes with impurities of mucus, yellow in color. In the latter stages, it causes critical dehydration of the body (dehydration). Mortality with timely treatment occurs in 30% of cases.

The main microorganisms causing diarrhea in the calf


Coronary viral infection affects calves at the age of the first two weeks of age. Accompanied by the occurrence of diarrhea, depression and subsequent anorexia. Stool liquid yellow or green with admixture of mucus and blood. In the later stages of the disease, animals develop mouth ulcers, body temperature drops and frothy saliva can occur.


These parasites most often cause diarrhea in calves aged 10 to 20 days. Most often the disease manifests itself in the winter-spring period of the year. The danger is that even after recovery, the calves that have recovered remain carriers of the infection for another 8 months. At the same time, cryptosporidia are very resistant to ordinary disinfectants and can maintain their vitality for one and a half years.

Infection with these bacteria is accompanied in calves by the occurrence of severe diarrhea. The stool is white or gray with an unpleasant smell, sometimes with impurities of mucus. Mortality occurs in 20-50 cases of dehydration.

Symptoms of diarrhea

The diarrhea in itself never appears suddenly, it is accompanied by many different symptoms. The first thing to pay attention to is the appetite of the animal. If the calf drinks milk without hunting, refuses to nipples, this is a sure sign of illness. It should immediately reduce the dose of milk. Even if diarrhea comes, it will be easier to cope with the disease.

Also preliminary symptoms can be:

  • the occurrence of dry crusts in the nostrils of the animal;
  • dry mirror of the upper lip;
  • dehydrated feces;
  • refusal of food;
  • heat.

Predisposing factors

Diarrhea in calves at a young age can be caused due to:

  • low immunity - lack of colostrum, late feeding, poor in composition of colostrum;
  • improper maintenance - poor sanitation, poor ventilation, failure to keep the distance between the babies;
  • improper feeding - a lot of milk, poor quality of the product;
  • stress - difficulties in calving, long distance transport.

Treatment methods

One of the most important tasks of a livestock breeder when detecting diarrhea is to prevent dehydration. In this case, treatment should begin immediately. A prerequisite is to reduce the amount of milk consumed and replace it once or twice with nutrient fluids. For example, they give glucose, electrolytes (bicarbonate, sodium chloride), glycine. Also mandatory antibiotic therapy, for example, chloramphenicol (20 mg per 1 kg of body weight), tetracycline (10-20 mg per 1 kg), biomitsin.

To eliminate toxicosis, as well as for water-salt metabolism, give salted milk and various salt solutions. When fighting colibacteria, it is very good to make acid solutions, in particular, fermented milk. It should be remembered that with diarrhea in animals often the temperature drops and rises, and they also freeze. Therefore, sick calves are transferred to special warm boxes or additionally include a heat lamp.

Fluid saturation

The basic principle of this method of treatment is oral saturation of the animal's body with moisture. To do this, use a variety of salt solutions, heated to body temperature of the calf. It is also desirable to add glucose to the electrolyte. See the table.

Electrolyte solutions used for oral saturation of calves suffering from diarrhea

You can also make a special liquid from a combination of electrolyte, glucose, and some other salts, minerals, or vitamins. In particular, the addition of pectin will help to improve the motility of the intestine and by covering it will protect the damaged cells.

Knowing the problem of diarrhea in newborn calves, on many farms electrolyte is added to the main feeding regime instead of milk. This allows the baby to get used to the taste of the liquid and, if necessary, to simplify the feeding.

Should I give milk?

This question is very important because, suffering from diarrhea, the calf actually loses its ability to digest milk. Moreover, in the intestine, undigested milk triggers the growth of bacteria. Therefore, experts recommend either to reduce or completely replace milk with an orally saturated liquid.

However, it is worth noting that without milk, babies lose weight quickly. The ideal is the diet during the treatment of diarrhea - it is milk (10% of live weight) and a sour, orally saturated liquid. Already on the seventh day after the start of treatment, the animals gradually gain weight.

Antibiotics and Intravenous Saturation

If dehydration and diarrhea continue after initiation of therapy, more radical methods of treatment should be resorted to. If water loss becomes more than 8%, antibiotics and electrolytes should be injected intravenously.

Depending on the degree of diarrhea, the calf needs a different dose of fluid. This is determined by the vet. Since at a young age, calves can not independently synthesize vitamin C, it is added to the main electrolytes. You can also enter additional vitamins, lactic acid bacteria.

Diarrhea Development Table


Good prevention, as well as compliance with the norms and rules of the content will help reduce the incidence of the baby:

  • proper feeding with colostrum;
  • good and proper diet fresh cow;
  • it is necessary to give only warm colostrum and milk (36-38 degrees);
  • watering should be carried out according to the regime only from well washed and disinfected containers;
  • overfeeding should be avoided;
  • use only high quality dairy substitutes;
  • observance of all sanitary and hygienic standards.

Video "Symptoms of calf diarrhea and electrolyte therapy"

In this video you will see in detail what symptoms can be observed in sick calves, learn how to properly assess the degree of dehydration of the animal. You will also learn how to properly apply electrolytes to treat diarrhea.




Popular Categories