Beef Cattle Coccidiosis

Coccidiosis is an intestinal disease caused by a parasite, coccidia. Coccidia eggs are everywhere; in calf sheds, barns and even pasture. The eggs can remain dormant for long periods and are very resistant to extreme heat or cold. Once they infect a calf the eggs can reproduce and spread rapidly. Any form of stress can trigger an outbreak of bloody scours. It is estimated only 5% of calves show obvious signs. The other 95% suffer low level infection, which interferes with feed consumption, feed conversion, weight gain and development, costing you in wasted feed and slow growth. The first sign of a clinical infection is often a bloody scour. This can lead to dehydration, anaemia, secondary disease problems and even death.

Excellent standards of hygiene and the use of suitable disinfectants while young calves are indoors will reduce the level of infection. The inclusion of a coccidiostat in calf feeds during the first 20 weeks of life while the calf is developing a natural immunity halts parasite development and keeps it in check to prevent further damage and reduce coccidiosis treatment costs and losses.

Treatments include the use of sulphonamides or a return to a coccidiostat in feed. Individual calves may require supportive oral rehydration therapy. Rapid rotation of calves onto pastures not previously grazed by young stock will also limit the intake of coccidia eggs by calves.