Industry News

Coccidiosis a cause of “bloody” scours in calves and weaners

Dairy farmers often have to treat coccidiosis in their calves, but it can also be a problem for beef producers.

Coccidiosis is caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite that invades the cells lining the intestine.

Once the parasite gains entry to a cell, it makes multiple copies of itself and then ruptures the cell, releasing the daughter parasites. The progeny invade neighbouring cells and repeat the process.

The damaged cells are unable to absorb nutrients, and in severe cases sections of the gut lining are ‘shed’ resulting in a ‘bloody scour’. Affected calves receive a setback to their growth and it can take months for them to recover.

Coccidia are microscopic organisms, a type of single cell protozoa that are widely distributed in the environment. There are two main species that infect calves, ( E.bovis and E.zuernii) but another species is a threat to older cattle.

Cattlemen in Qld and NT know this form of coccidiosis as “black scours”. In the outback, calves become stressed at weaning while being held in yards and fed a ration.

Outbreaks of “black scours” are frequently reported, and weaners often die from coccidiosis.

Because management is different in temperate climates, the disease is a less frequent problem for Southern beef producers. Beef calves are weaned later than dairy calves, and usually receive a lower challenge from coccidia. However coccidiosis can be a problem on beef farms and where the disease has been diagnosed, farmers should be on the lookout for any signs of scouring.

Bayer veterinarian Dr Neil Cooper has been working with Baycox products for many years. Dr Cooper says that Baycox is a unique product and can be used to either treat or prevent coccidiosis in a range of species. Baycox is quick acting, because it kills all the intracellular stages of the coccidial parasite.

Baycox has another advantage over other treatments or preventatives – it doesn’t interfere with the development of immunity to the parasite.

Dr Cooper said he’s aware of outbreaks in beef calves on the North Coast of NSW These mainly occur in the spring, with calves frequenting a corner of a paddock near a water trough allowing a build-up of the infective coccidial oocysts on the ground.

“Treatment with Baycox has proved highly effective in the Casino area.” he said.
In Victoria, Brad Gilmour of Gilmour Pastoral near Terang has been using Baycox for several years.

The property is located in a high rainfall area, with a heavy stocking rate on highly improved pasture.

Brad runs Angus cattle and experienced an outbreak of scours two years ago in a mob of calves that was caused by coccidiosis.

Brad made sure that each calf received the correct dose. He weighed each calf individually – calves weighed from 80-180Kg at the time of the outbreak, and after giving Baycox, moved them to a fresh paddock.

“We lost a couple of calves prior to starting treatment, and the affected calves were very lethargic.

We saw a very quick recovery in the calves and no further losses occurred after they were treated with Baycox.”

“We’re prepared now”, Brad said, “At the first sign of scours we treat the calves with Baycox and we know they’ll recover quickly”.

Story Supplied by Lawsons Angus, Download their 2012 Bulletin Here

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