30 January 2015 | Online since 2003



Don't let coccidiosis prevent spring calf success


With the UK recovering from the wettest winter on record and now basking in the mild spring weather, the perfect conditions are created for coccidiosis to go into overdrive.

Scouring is the commonest disease seen in young calves and the greatest single cause of death so tackling coccidiosis should be high on every farmer’s list. Warm, wet days favour survival of the oocysts of the Eimeria parasite, so infection levels in calves are set to be high this spring.

So why should farmers worry? Scour is one of the most costly diseases to affect production and average losses may be in the order of £33 per calf.

In extreme cases where several calves die, then costs can be up to five times that. In the UK, it’s estimated that one in seven dairy breed calves and one in thirteen beef breed calves die in the rearing phase, with mortality at its highest during the first six months of life.

Farmers should watch out for a rise in cases of coccidiosis at critical points this spring. Weaning, castration, transport and turn out can all act as immune system stressors and trigger outbreaks of disease.

Warmer springs mean a potential increase of oocysts in the environment, on pasture, in bedding and around areas like feed troughs where calves mix in larger numbers so farmers must be aware of the risks out there.

So this spring don’t forget the risk that coccidiosis can pose and make sure you nip it in the bud before it burns a whole in your wallet.

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