Vets warn farmers of scour outbreak as a result of cattle overcrowding; DISEASE PREVENTION: With cattle now calving profusely in cramped conditions vaccination is imperative to offset risks of infection.
"Some units with cattle still indoors are now quite heavily populated, simply because many farmers kept more older cows on in the herd during the movement restrictions. As a legacy, on many farms stock numbers are up and these extra cows are now calving too, " said independent veterinary consultant Dr Tony Andrews.
Kate Richards, a vet with Schering-Plough Animal Health, agrees.
"Cows are now calving - up to 30 in 48 hours on some farms - and accommodation is coming under severe pressure, " she said.
Vets warn that any infectious scours will spread like wildfire in these situations.
Fortunately, farmers can now protect their calves against three of the most prevalent scour-causing disease organisms present on UK farms, simply by giving their mothers a single shot vaccine, three to 12 weeks before calving.
"Data from Schering-Plough's ScourWatch sampling initiative suggest rotavirus is still the most significant scour pathogen and is implicated in 50pc of all reported cases of infectious scour on UK farms, " said Kate Richards.
"Coronavirus is present in about 15pc of cases and E-coli in under 10pc. But on a dose of RotavecCorona TM, three to 12 weeks before calving, is all it takes to protect calves from these highly infectious bugs. Calves receive protection against the scour-causing organisms by drinking the vaccinated mother's colostrums - either by suckling or being fed the stored colostrum."
She added that these pathogens are present on most UK farms and that overcrowding could be a serious trigger factor this spring for infectious scour outbreaks.
Antibiotics are ineffective against rotavirus and coronavirus and the only real way to combat these pathogens is by vaccination.