Calf Health--runny poop : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have four calves, two heifer and two steer, born in April & May. All are around 425 pounds. Have had them all approximately one month. Have been allowing free feeding from a hay rack (poor hay, not too rich) and occasionally giving corn and oats.

Two of the four are having very runny poop. Have read other, older postings, but they seem to relate to much younger calves. What should I do? All seem healthy otherwise--bright eyed, curious. Someone suggested giving them baking soda. Has anyone heard of this?

Do I call in a vet? Farmer friends seem to feel it's extreme to call in a vet for such a minor thing as this. Any advice, suggestions will be welcome.

-- Cindie Johnson (, November 26, 2001


Go to the feed store. Get some calf boluses for scours. It's like a big pill. Pen the calves, restrain them one at a time, open its mouth, insert bolus past the point where the will spit it back at you. Release calf.

-- Rose (, November 26, 2001.

I would not call in a vet. You mention feeding oats and corn sometimes. The key to keeping your animals from having the runs is to be consistant with their feeding. If they are not on grain regularly then they need to adjust to it each time. Some are more touchy than others. Feeding a small amount of grain each day, or not feeding grain at all would be better than feeding a larger amount sporadically. Feeding soda is a good idea. We raise goats and calves, among other animals, and always have soda available to them. Buy it at the feed store, ask for bicarb - it is exactly the same soda as baking soda, just a lot cheaper when bought for animals. Animals use it when they need it, and leave it alone the rest of the time. My advice, for what it is worth---- don't feed any grain for a few days, see if the runs go away. Meanwhile consider offering the soda. If the runs do go away, and you feel you should be supplementing with grain because you feel the quality of your hay is poor, start giving a small amount per day (1 cup the first day, 1 1/2 cups the second and third days, 2 cups the fourth day - these amounts are per animal). If you see the runs starting again, back off on the grain. If your animals are allowed to eat all they want of the grass hay, they will probably make it through the winter just fine. Ours do, and they do grow some. When Spring comes they put on a real growth spurt. Another question I would ask is whether these animals were wormed before you got them, or if you have wormed them. Are you familiar with probios? This is something you buy for any ruminant, it replenishes the bacteria in their rumens, it is very safe, just like humans eating live bacteria yogurt after an illness or antibiotic treatment to boost the digestive microbes in our intestines. An animal who has the runs can usually be expected to benefit from probios. Probios is sold at feed stores, in several forms. The cheapest by far is a powder which you could mix with some warm water in a bucket. They will drink it right down, when they get thirsty. Also it is sold as a paste in a tube, like some of the wormers.

-- Dianne Wood (, November 26, 2001.

Where do you live, Cindie?

-- Dianne Wood (, November 26, 2001.

Cindie, if you are in an area where it is just getting cold, this could be Winter Dysentery. It's very common when cold weather hits and the animals come in for the winter, also just the change in weather period. At this point, I wouldn't be concerned. If it gets very watery, watch them more closely, but as long as it stays brown they are ok. Can sometimes not act sick at all in mild cases, or sick as dogs when it's more severe, but it's about like you with a 48 hour bug---not much a doctor can do for you. Most of the time it's just mild like you are seeing it, but very very rarely it goes to town on them and you can get mortality. But that's like saying some elderly people die from the common cold. If they continue to act well and eat, don't worry about it. If they start to act severely depressed and listless, and especially if the manure turns bloody, get the vet pronto. My cows have already had this this past week, and are coming out of it now. Milk production goes in the dumps when it happens, as well, but it's nearly an annual event here. You can vaccinate for shipping fever earlier in the fall and lessen the impact of it, supposedly, but it's hit and miss even with that. It's just one of those things.

In general, scours in larger calves is never too much of a problem. It's not the same as a baby calf, where it is debilitating and threatens the thriftiness of the animal for life.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, November 26, 2001.

You might want to rule out coccidiosis. You can do this by taking some manure to the vet and having him check for it. Four hundred pound calves eating mostly hay would have firm manure if all was A OK.

Co-rid in the water or amprolium crumbles in the feed will knock it.

When we have unexplained scours, we first rule out coccidiosis.

Doesn't cost much to find out and you can treat it yourself by ordering from PBS Livestock Health (800 321 0235)

-- homestead2 (, November 26, 2001.

Thank you for the speedy responses. I'm new at farming and am loving it and learning so much, thanks to the internet.

By the way, I live in SW Ohio, between Cincinnati & Dayton.

-- Cindie Johnson (, November 27, 2001.


You got some really good advice from the people that responded to your question, but after reading them I find that they forgot to mention one very important piece of advice.

Since you are new to farming, and this is your first experience with scours, there is one thing you must remember.

DO NOT STAND BEHIND ANIMALS THAT HAVE SCOURS FOR A VERY LONG TIME. Invariably one or more of them will cough, and well if you think about it you will bet the picture.

Good luck to a new farmer from one that has been at it for a lifetime.

-- Doc Mac (, November 29, 2001.

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