Calves are infected by ingesting eggs (oocysts). If a calf ingests a large amount of these eggs, inflammation develops in the last part of the large intestine. Symptoms often appear when the calf is 1 to 3 months old. However, symptoms can also appear in later life. Coccidiosis, causes diarrhoea and drowsiness. In addition, the calf loses its appetite, which results in a growth retardation in the longer term. The calf loses a lot of moisture in a short time, which results in dehydration. As a consequence of a coccidiosis infection, calves can reach the desired insemination weight up to two months later. Damage accumulates up to €180 per calf, assuming €3 per day in rearing costs and the lost income from future milk production.
Coccidiosis causes dark coloured diarrhoea, which is often mixed with mucus and sometimes with blood. Coccidiosis can be diagnosed through manure testing. When a calf is infected, eggs (oocysts) will be found in the manure.
It is important to avoid heavy coccidiosis infection. As a preventive measure, it is essential to provide clean drinking water and feed. Make sure every calf has its own bucket or clean the buckets with water at 65 degrees Celsius and a cleaning agent after each milking. Prevent calves in group pens from being able to draw the feed into the pen. This prevents manure containing eggs from ending up on the feed. Clean the individual pens and group pens after each round, let them dry out and leave them empty for at least a week before the new calves go in. If necessary, opt for a cleaning agent or a steam cleaner to disinfect the pens more. It is important that calves immune system is healthy. Make sure that the calf receives colostrum of sufficient quality within the hour. Coccidiosis often develops during weaning. For this reason, overcrowding in the pens must be prevented. This avoids stress on the calf.
Once coccidiosis has been diagnosed, it is very important to treat the calf as soon as possible. Treatment should be discussed with the vet. If the results of the manure test show that there is coccidiosis present, early treatment with an anti-coccidiosis agent can ensure that the consequences remain limited. Is coccidiosis a persistent problem at your company? Then it is advisable to steam clean the barn annually or to treat the cattle with an anti-coccidiosis agent. This kills the parasite and prevents calves from becoming heavily infected from the environment.