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Calf health from birth to weaning. II. Management of diarrhoea in pre-weaned calves

Ingrid Lorenz1*, John Fagan2 and Simon J More13

Author Affiliations

1 Herd Health and Animal Husbandry, UCD School Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

2 Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Regional Veterinary Laboratory, Coosan, Athlone, Co. Westmeath, Ireland

3 Centre for Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis, UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

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Irish Veterinary Journal 2011, 64:9  doi:10.1186/2046-0481-64-9

Published: 14 September 2011


Calfhood diseases have a major impact on the economic viability of cattle operations. The second of this three part review series considers the management of diarrhoeic diseases in pre-weaned calves. In neonatal calf diarrhoea, oral rehydration therapy is the single most important therapeutic measure to be carried out by the farmer and is usually successful if instigated immediately after diarrhoea has developed. Continued feeding of milk or milk replacer to diarrhoeic calves is important, to prevent malnourishment and weight loss in affected calves. Indiscriminative antibiotic treatment of uncomplicated diarrhoea is discouraged, whereas systemically ill calves can benefit from systemic antibiotic treatment for the prevention of septicaemia or concurrent diseases. Ancillary treatments and specific preventive measures are discussed. Eimeriosis has a high economic impact on the farming industries due to direct cost of treatment and calf losses, but especially due to decreased performance of clinically as well as sub-clinically affected animals. Emphasis lies on prophylactic or metaphylactic treatment, since the degree of damage to the intestinal mucosa once diarrhoea has developed, makes therapeutic intervention unrewarding.

Calf health; Disease management; Neonatal diarrhoea; Oral rehydration; Continued feeding; Prevention; Eimeriosis