Expert Commentaries & Blogs

Control Scours With Quality Nutrition
by Ann Hess | 
Ann Hess
Ann Hess is the On-Farm Communications Manager for Alltech. A native of South Dakota, Hess holds a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from South Dakota State University. In 2004, she joined Alltech as a product assistant for Yea-Sacc®1026 and then joined the marketing department in 2005 as a territory marketing coordinator for Alltech South Dakota. In her current role, Hess works as part of a global press team, coordinating media relations, press conferences, special events, articles, pitches, and news releases with the global livestock and trade media.
Control Scours With Quality Nutrition
On average, calf scours account for 36 percent of all death losses between birth and 30 days of age. The economic loss for the producer can be anywhere from $50 per calf born to $200 per scouring calf. These losses include the cost of dead calves, stunted calves, labor and medication. As cold winter temperatures set in, these costs and working to prevent calf scours are at the top of every cattle producer’s mind.
Scours can be caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites. Disease conditions are created when these agents damage the villi that line the intestinal tract. This damage prevents normal absorption of fluids and nutrients. Weather is one the biggest outside influencers to newborn calves, along with difficult births, poor sanitation, and the reduced health status of the mother. When these conditions are present and the calf’s resistance to disease is lowered, the induction and overload of e-coli and salmonella are more likely to cause lowered production, possibly death.
Before calving season gets under way, producers should consider these management tips to prevent scours:
·         Assist with calving
·         Keep a clean area just for calving
·         Practice good sanitation
·         Make sure calves get plenty of colostrum and that they get it quickly within four hours after birth, if possible
·         Move healthy pairs to clean, open pastures
·         Keep cows healthy and nutritionally sound
Even before calving, producers should be considering the nutritional program they are implementing with the mother. The last four to five weeks before birth, everything the mother cow has is going into developing a healthy calf and quality colostrum. We need to feed the mother cow properly so she can produce a healthy calf and have good quality colostrum with high levels of antibody titers.
One area of prevention that continues to be researched is probiotics, or beneficial bacteria. Alternative non-antimicrobial products such as direct-fed microbials and/or mannan oligosaccharides (Bio-Mos®) have been implicated as possible intervention strategies. Bio-Mos, a product included in the Alltech Beef Advantage series, helps to maintain the gut health and integrity of the calf. By maintaining gut health and stability, we can reduce the need for therapeutic treatment during times of stress, reduce the producer’s time and labor inputs and improve calf livability, all of which increases the bottom line for that producer. 

The Alltech Beef Advantage series of natural solutions is aimed directly at optimizing rumen efficiency and maintaining animal health as well as meat quality, lameness and fertility issues. To learn more about Bio-Mos or the Alltech Beef Advantage program, contact us at 605.692.5310 or


Editor’s Note: This commentary is sponsored by Alltech, Inc. For more information on animal health and nutrition, go to:

This commentary is for informational purposes only. The opinions and comments expressed herein represent the opinions of the author--they do not necessarily reflect the opinion of This commentary is not intended to provide individual advice to anyone. will not be liable for any errors or omissions in the information, or for any damages or losses in any way related to this commentary.


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