1. K-State home
  2. »Research and Extension
  3. »News
  4. »News Stories
  5. »Cattle Chat: Keeping calves healthy

K-State Research and Extension News

small brown calf standing in grass field

Providing a clean environment where calves less than a month of age are not in close-contact with older calves is the best way to keep scours from developing in the herd. | Download this photo.

Cattle Chat: Keeping calves healthy

K-State veterinarians offer ways reduce risk of calves developing, sharing scours

March 2, 2021

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” coined by Benjamin Franklin rings true for many of life’s situations. And for cattle ranchers hoping to prevent calf scours from developing in the herd, prevention is key, according to the veterinarians at the Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute.

Veterinarians Bob Larson and Brad White offered several tips for keeping the herd free from scours on a recent Cattle Chat podcast.

Scours, otherwise known as diarrhea, often impact calves in the first month of life, in part because of their liquid diet of milk and developing immune system, Larson said. If the calves lose too many electrolytes, they may develop metabolic acidosis, which can be fatal if not promptly treated.

“The calf is most susceptible to scours in the first few weeks of life. After that they are pretty resilient to becoming severely ill,” Larson said.

Management tips offered by the veterinarians for preventing scours include:

  • Make sure the calves are kept in a sanitary environment to prevent exposure to the pathogens that cause scours to develop and spread in the herd.
  • Maintain older calves in a separate location from younger calves to reduce the in-herd disease transmission.
  • Keep the cows in good body condition so they pass the immunity to their calves through the first milk, known as colostrum.
  • Vary the feeding locations to spread out the calves and keep them from congregating with the other cattle.

To hear more of their discussion, tune in to the BCI Cattle Chat podcast online.

At a glance

Scours can be a serious sickness that can be minimized with management practices, according to experts at Kansas State University’s Beef Cattle Institute.


Beef Cattle Institute Cattle Chat podcast

Notable quote

“The calf is most susceptible to scours in the first few weeks of life. After that they are pretty resilient to disease transmission.”

-- Bob Larson, veterinarian, Kansas State University


Bob Larson

Written by

Lisa Moser


KSRE logo
K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.