Calf Diarrhea – Major Indirect Economic Loss in Dairy Farming
Calf diarrhea is one of the major setbacks for the present dairy industry and main hurdle in its development. Due to multiple etiological systems and consequent poor diagnosis is the main reason for losses. Further farmers never gave attention to calves because their feeding is a costly affair and provide returns after a long time, that’s why farmers rarely provide the required amount of milk. Additionally, there is a myth that unless placenta is shed off farmers never allow calves to suckle colostrum. Calf diarrhea is attributed to both infectious and non-infectious factors.
Multiple enteric pathogens (e.g., viruses, bacteria, and protozoa) are involved in the development of this disease. Co-infection is frequently observed in diarrheic calves although a single primary pathogen can be the cause in some cases. The prevalence of each of pathogen and disease incidence can vary by the geographical location of the farms, farm management practices, and herd size. Although the dairy industry has made great improvements with herd management, animal facilities and care, feeding and nutrition, and timely use of biopharmaceutics, calf diarrhea is still problematic due to the multi-factorial nature of the disease. Prevention and control of calf diarrhea should be based on a good understanding of the disease complexities such as multiple pathogens, co-infection, environmental factors, and feeding and management during the calving period before disease outbreaks. Numerous infectious agents have been implicated in calf diarrhea. Bovine practitioners and cattle producers are aware of many enteric pathogens because these primary agents have been known to be involved in calf diarrhea for several decades and still greatly influence current cow-calf operations. Ten different enteric pathogens are recognized as either major (BRV, BCoV, BVDV, Salmonella spp, E. coli, C. perfringens, and C. parvum) or emerging (bovine caliciviruses and BToV) pathogens. Cryptosporidium parvum is a protozoan parasite that is frequently associated with gastrointestinal tract disease in humans and neonatal cattle. Calves infected with C. parvum can be asymptomatic or develop severe diarrhea with dehydration. I hope in further blogs of Ali’s Veterinary Wisdom I try to bring more elaborated information on this topic and help you to combat this situation more efficiently.