If you have encountered crypto in your calves, firstly, you are not alone, 40% of all scour cases are diagnosed as crypto so it is a common and big problem. It is not easily eradicated but there are steps we can take to reduce and hopefully remove the problem. Here is our 5 Point Plan:
Calving area/pens: Despite this being an issue in our calves the calf shed is not the first place to look. In the first 24 hours of life the calf’s gut lining is ‘open’ and unprotected to achieve uptake of the large antibody proteins in colostrum. This also leaves it vulnerable to ingesting pathogens in the calving shed. We all know as the calf gets to its feet it attempts to suckle everything it meets; be that part of the cow, the gate, the straw – all these areas pose a potential risk so keeping our dry cows and their environment as clean and dry as we can is the first step to reducing a problem. Remember, not all disinfectant products can remove the infectious oocysts.
Colostrum: We come back to colostrum in almost all conversations around improving the health of our calves and with good reason; 50% of all mortality is caused by insufficient colostrum management.
Gold standard colostrum feeding: 10% of bodyweight (generally 4L for Holstein calves, 2.5L for Jersey calves) within the first hour. That colostrum should have been harvested in a sterile environment soon after calving, into a sterile reciprocal and if not being used immediately rapidly cooled and refrigerated. Colostrum should be tested by using either a colostrometer or a Brix Refractometer. When using the refractometer ≥22% is good, ≤18% should be discarded. If your refractometer reads 19 – 21% consider using a whole colostrum replacer for a first feed and using this for a subsequent feed. Feeding equipment, be that a teated bottle or a tube should also be sterile.
Diagnose: If you are seeing clinical signs in your calves (tucked up appearance, yellow scour) get them tested, scour tests can be purchased and carried out yourself, by your Wynnstay youngstock specialist or by your vet. Know what you are dealing with.
Isolate and Rehydrate: Affected calves shed the infective oocysts in the faeces at a rate of 10 million per gram! It takes just ten to infect another susceptible calf.
Scouring calves lose a lot of liquid and electrolytes which need replacing as dehydration can quickly lead to death. If unsure, rehydrate giving a calf an electrolyte feed even when it is hydrated will do it no harm. Continue with milk feeding as the calf requires energy and nutrients to recover and survive. Treat your electrolyte feeds as extra feeds. Do not mix your electrolyte into milk – this has a similar effect to a sailor drinking sea water, you make the number of particles in the solution far too great risking further dehydration. Continue rehydrating daily until the calf stops scouring.
Consult your vet.
For more information or advice, contact one of our Wynnstay Youngstock Specialists.