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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 20842
Experience:  As a veterinarian, I have been educated to treat all animals, big and small.
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I was wondering what causes white scours in calves and what

Customer Question

I was wondering what causes white scours in calves and what is the best way to treat
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hello & welcome, Terry. I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today.
Now as I am sure you can appreciate, calf scours can be triggered by numerous issues ranging from nutritional issues, to bacterial causes, to viruses, to parasites and protozoa.
Now if we are seeing white scours in young calves, then this usually due to nutritional scours. This is where the gut fails to digest the milk the calf is drinking. There is no one infectious agent that has been blamed for causing this but it thought that it may be secondary to the young gut fighting off a subclinical infection.
With this in mind, the mainstay of treatment for these causes is supportive care and good hygiene. If a calf is severely affected or there is an outbreak situation, then a fecal sample should be sent for analysis to identify any underlying infectious agents that may be present. Otherwise, the affected calf and cow should be isolated from the herd, handled last, and barrier nursed. (ie using gloves/changes of clothes/good hand washing techinique/footbaths).
If we can keep the calf eating and hydrated by matching fluid losses via diarrhea; then they will often settle over a week or so. If the calf isn't drinking properly on its own, then we may need to start stomach tubing or drenching milk into the calf. Furthermore, in all cases, we'd want to alternate these feeds with electrolyte solutions (ie Resorb, Lectade). In regards ***** ***** much fluid the calf needs daily, this will be based in its weight. We want it to have 0.25-0.5 liters of fluid for every 10 lb (5 kg) of its body weight a day as normal maintenance fluid intake. On top of this, we want to supplement an equivalent amount of fluid to match the volume of diarrhea it is passing.
Further to this, if the stools are very runny, then we can use Kaolin or Pepto Bismol to slow the diarrhea. Dose-wise, we tend to give 1 teaspoon per 20lbs of body weight every 8-12 hours. And a prophylactic antibiotic (like the Sulfa drugs or Spectinomycin) can also be used. Finally, as there have been a few studies suggesting that cow vitamin imbalances (especially Vitamin A) can lead to white scours in calves, we may also want to make sure that mum has access to a mineral/vitamin lick.
Overall, white scours is not a condition that is characteristic of one particular infectious agent. Instead it represents a compromised GI absorption potentially triggered by a subclinical virus or bacterial imbalance in the gut. Therefore, in cases like this, supportive care, fluid therapy, and strict hygiene are paramount to help the calf's immune system settle the trigger and restore normal gut absorption and thus fecal production.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
Dr. B.
If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need as this is how I am credited for assisting you today. Thank you! : )
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 2 years ago.
Hi Terry,
I'm just following up on our conversation about None. How is everything going?
Dr. B.