Beef calves born late in the season run a higher risk of developing scours; help boost their immune system.

Newborn calves are immediately exposed to diseases lurking in the environmental, especially towards the end of the calving season. After weeks of heavy use, pastures and other birthing areas accumulate afterbirths, urine and feces. A haven for bacteria and a harsh place in which to begin life.

“Calves born during the first several weeks are fortunate to start out in a relatively clean space,” notes Scott Sturgeon, DVM of Sturgeon Veterinary Services in Hydro, Okla. “However, calves born late in the season typically enter the world under less sanitary conditions. They face more contamination issues, which will only continue to worsen the longer the calving area is occupied.”

As a result, a higher percentage of calves born during the calving season’s last quarter can suffer from scours due to pathogen buildup than calves born earlier in the season.

“Calves born at end of season have a higher chance of contracting the three main causes of scours,” explains Sturgeon. “E. coli, rotavirus and coronavirus.”

Cattle producers can take various steps to optimize newborn calf health for animals arriving during the season’s backend. A USDA-approved antibody product gives calves – especially these latecomers – the immediate protection they need. One dose effectively defends against E. coli and coronavirus when given after birth – within the critical timeframe for antibody absorption.

“I’ve seen the benefits of this product firsthand,” shares Sturgeon. “I have clients who faced scour issues for a number of years and had great success after incorporating a specific antibody product into their calving regimen. These producers have seen a major decrease in scours and an increase in overall herd health as calves grow up, boosting the farm’s bottom line.”

The ability to dose alongside colostrum is another important benefit, as some products on the market require a waiting period between administering the antibody and feeding colostrum.

“Any time there is a delay in colostrum intake, the calf is put at greater risk for failure of passive immunity,” points out Bobbi Brockmann, vice president of sales and marketing with ImmuCell Corporation. “Purified antibody products containing concentrated levels of specific immunoglobulins that inactivate disease pathogens, can be administered to calves at the same time as colostrum – so there is no interference with maternal antibodies and no waiting for a response from the calf’s immune system. It also means less stress because the calf does not have to divert its precious energy reserves from maintenance and growth to mounting an immune response.”

Rotating animals to clean pastures or facilities throughout the calving season is another protective measure some producers practice to limit calves’ exposure to contaminants. It’s important to keep calving areas as clean as possible to avoid compromising calf health.

When it comes to scours, prevention is the goal.

“It’s more economical to prevent this costly disease than it is to endure its lifelong consequences,” says Sturgeon. “A calf that gets scours is set back for life. It is more likely to acquire respiratory diseases and not gain as well throughout its entire life cycle. But if you prevent a calf from getting scours, you set it up for a healthier, more efficient life.”

Help ensure newborn calves joining your herd throughout the calving season get the best start to life and are positioned to reach their full genetic potential. You can provide immediate immunity in the form of a USDA-approved specific antibody product. It’s proven to be a life-saving component of newborn calf protocols when used in conjunction with good colostrum management and calf nutrition programs.

Video resources on newborn calf health can be found at www.youtube.com/ImmediateImmunity. You can also visit the Immediate Immunity Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ImmediateImmunity.