Calves with diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is the result of a disturbance of the digestion.
The cause of diarrhoea can have infectious, non-infectious causes or a combination.

Infectious causes:

  • Viruses: Rota, Corona, BVD
  • Bacteria: E. coli, Salmonella typhimurium, Salmonella dublin
  • Protozoa: cryptosporidiosis, coccidiosis

Below is a detailed description of the diarrheal diseases:

Coli: This is a bacterium which generally gives complaints in the first five days of life of a calf. Diarrhoea may occur very soon after birth. The bacterium attaches itself to the intestinal wall and give off toxins. These toxins cause an increased secretion of fluid. A calf can therefore dehydrate very quickly and die.

Rotavirus: This virus usually produces symptoms between day 4 and day 14 after birth. It is a highly contagious virus, it sticks everywhere. The intestinal wall is damaged, causing less moisture and nutrients to be absorbed. Rotavirus is causing damage to the small intestine.

Coronavirus: A virus that does greater damage to the intestinal wall which causes symptoms between day 5 and day 30. The diarrhoea symptoms last longer than rota. An intestinal cell which is irreparably damaged, it must be replaced by a "new" intestinal cell. It takes three weeks for a young intestinal cell grown into a functional intestinal cell.

Cryptosporidium: Diarrhoea from 3 days to 28 days of age. This is an intestinal parasite that can already cause diarrhea from day 3. Usually the symptoms are visible later on. Crypto often strikes when the intestine has been damaged (eg by rotavirus). This intestinal parasite causes problems in the last part of the small intestine.


Regular manure Manure with
milk substitude
Constipation Starting diarrhoea
Coli infection)
Manure with 
diarrhoea caused 
by food

Gezonde kalveren-Gezonde runderen, 1981, Ludwig Schrag, page 22-23

Non-infectious causes may include

  • Nutrition Mistakes: changing feeding times, mixing errors, use of dirty equipment / piping, wrong drinking temperature, overfeeding, mixed offering of milk and forage
  • Nutrition diarrhea: habituation to the milk during the first week.
  • Housing: dampness, drafts, contaminated materials.
  • Side effects of a medication.

The order in which the symptoms occur with fluid loss from the intestine are:

  • Lethargy.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Sucking reflex is weak or absent.
  • Cold nose, ears and legs due to impaired blood flow.
  • Dehydration symptoms (sunken eyes, decreased skin elasticity).
  • Heavy breathing due to an offset of the acidification of the calf.
  • Calves are weak and are frequent.
  • In the final phase occurs on hypothermia 
  • Depending on the cause of these symptoms can be mild to very quickly (within hours) expired.

The treatment is designed to get the intestinal floraoperate quickly back to the normal, in the first place to cure the calf. At the same time it ensures that the disease does not spread. It is important to be on time, i.e., at start of the first symptoms, with the treatment. The earlier the treatment, the better the result.

Firstly, the main measures

  • Fixing the fluid / electrolyte balance.
  • The amount of moisture should be sufficient for maintenance and to compensate for losses (this can add up to a calf from 50 kg to 10 liters per day).
  • It is important to provide moisture several times per day.
  • Administer Diarrhoea agent.

There are many diarrhoea agents that you can apply
First you should make sure that the calf stays drinking. The D-bolus is very effective. Next, you need to tackle the diarrhea.  This can be done with feeding electrolytes such as Electrolyten mix or Rehy-Tab or a combination (Electrolytes, fiber, energy) such as LicopectLicopect Plus and Pec-10. It is also possible to use a direct 'stopper' like Kalvital. All of th eabove are preferably provided with water. We prefer products such as LicopectLicopect PlusPec-10 and Kalvital because it allows growth loss to the minimum.

Fighting diarrhoea with the newest method is precisely to NOT stop the milk supply. We currenlty have two favourites; Pec-10 Stop and Licopect StopPec-10 Stop and Licopect Stop do not contain electrolytes. They both make use of the electrolytes that are already in the milk supply. Then there are specific products such as C-Block which can be used to assist with Cryptosporidium problems.

Also make sure you keep the calf warm by placing it on a rubber mat or hay. weating with a kalverdekje or heat lamp prevents hypothermia.

Housing and hygiene
A calving cow must be clean, but also the where calving takes place and the materials used during and after birth. Housing newborn calves individually in a previously cleansed single box. Try to take care of the calves always from young to old.

Colostrum management
It is important to remember that a calf is born without resistance. This means the animal is completely dependent on the colostrum intake. Colostrum contains antibodies that are absorbed from the intestine. The absorption capacity of the intestine decreases every hour. After 24 hours, there are no more antibodies absorbed from the intestine. The first colostrum contains most of the antibodies. Make sure a calf gets two liters of colostrum immediately after birth. Provide at least 6 liters in the first 24 hours! 

Provide young calves with milk of good quality! Always provide this at the right temperature (38-40 ° C). Ensure they always have fresh drinking water and good quality hay right from the start. For problems with calf diarrhoea, it is important to determine the cause.

Since prevention is better than cure C-Block has been developed.

C-Block is a dietary food that protects the intestines. C-Block is also known as the green antibiotics of the intestines and is in almost all cases, the warranty for the healthy (start) rearing of the calves.