Calf Health


Diarrhoea is a symptom rather than an illness. The origins are varied.

Diarrhoea is the top health problem when breeding young calves. From a zootechnical point of view, they lead to delayed growth or even weight loss which is highly detrimental to the growth of the heifer.

Contamination among animals is almost unavoidable and increases during the calving season.

A distinction is made between dietary diarrhoea (often due to a dysfunction of the abomasum or oesophageal groove), and infectious or parasitic diarrhoea. Symptoms are similar whatever the cause. Diagnosis is based on the existence of associated symptoms and age at the onset.


Separate the sick calf from the others to avoid contamination and to intervene more easily. If it is the first diarrhoea of the season, take a faeces sample before any treatment and keep it in the refrigerator for two to four days should it need to be analysed.

Determine how serious the case is (general condition, temperature, type of diarrhoea, etc.). For less severe cases, rehydration is the central element of treatment.

For diarrhoea that persists after treatment, or that becomes epidemic in nature, quickly send a sample to the laboratory for analysis.

Dietary diarrhoea

These occur in calves of any age. It has a pasty texture, is whitish and has a butyric or lactic smell. Very often, the breeder is responsible, and it leads to a dysfunction of the abomasum due to:

  • Cow’s milk that is too high in fat
  • Drinking too much milk, often during the first week
  • A cold or irregular distribution temperature

Infectious and parasitic diarrhoea

Incidence of different causes of diarrhoea depending on the age of the calf

Tableau maladies des veaux