Coccidiosis in Calves and Stocker Cattle7 Comments
Coccidiosis is an infection of the small and large intestine caused by the protozoan parasites, Eimeria zuernii and Eimeria bovis. Without any preventive program the parasites invade the mucosal lining of the small and large intestines.
Calves become infected by consuming the oocysts from fecal-contaminated pasture, feed, water, and bedding or by licking the hair of other contaminated calves. The parasite can remain viable for months in soil, water and vegetation, thriving in a moist, moderate, airy environment.
Since the parasites invade and destroy the cells lining the digestive tract, there is a reduction in nutrient absorption which reduces gain and feed efficiency. The “scar tissue” left after an episode of coccidiosis may linger for months or years resulting in poor performance for the lifetime of the animal. In severe cases, calves become dehydrated which often leads to death. To prevent any damage to the digestive tract a producer should have an effective and continuous coccidiosis control program in place any time young calves are put in a stressful situation.
Signs of the disease that will be observed by the cattleman include: diarrhea (watery to sometimes bloody), dark fecal soiling on the tail and rear quarters, dehydration, gauntness due to reduced feed intake, weakness and depression. Often blood spots will be observed in the fecal samples by an observant cattleman before the other symptoms are present.
A definitive diagnosis is difficult and time consuming and most experienced cattlemen act immediately to introduce a preventive or treatment program, depending on the observed occurrences of blood in fecal material and/or dark fecal soiling around the tail of any calves in the pen.
Young calves are most vulnerable to the disease. Most any change in management such as weaning or moving calves will significantly increase the risk of coccidiosis.
Astute cattlemen will investigate the various options for preventing coccidiosis and have a routine program for young calves. Absent of a preventive program, some producers may not see a clinical outbreak but should realize that sub clinical coccidiosis will reduce gain and lower feed efficiency and reduce the immunity of the calf to other diseases such as BRD (bovine respiratory disease).Tags: Airy Environment, Blood Spots, Cattleman, Coccidia, Coccidiosis, Definitive Diagnosis, Fecal Material, Fecal Samples, Feces, Feed Efficiency, Feed Water, Herd Animals, Intestinal Tracts, Livestock Ranchers, Microorganisms, Nutrient Absorption, Oocysts, Parasite, Parasitic Disease, Preventive Program, Protozoan Parasites, Ranch Animals, Rear Quarters, Scar Tissue, Single Celled Organism, Small And Large Intestine, Small And Large Intestines, Soil Water, Stocker Cattle, Stressful Situation, Toxoplasmosis, Transmission MethodsCattle, Diagnosis and Clinical Signs