Friesian calf in barn

Boost colostrum quality to protect calves from scours

Farms are still losing too many calves to scours - the main cause of death in calves under two months of age.¹

MSD Animal Health’s 2020 national youngstock survey revealed 81% of more than 300 farmers said they had experienced scours in their calves during the last 12 months and 50% of farms had suffered mortalities. Calf deaths due to scours had been seen by more than 65% of dairy farms.

The cost of treating scour is estimated at £57.94 per calf affected², but this figure doesn’t include the longer-term financial impact associated with a depression in growth rates and lifetime  productivity.

It’s important to appreciate that treatment with antibiotics is rarely effective against most causes of infectious scours.

Taking steps to prevent youngstock illness is critical to the long-term productivity of the animal and your business.

Immunity-led disease prevention

The key to better scours control lies in immunity-led disease prevention supported by good management and hygiene.

And thanks to the newly launched Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, farmers have every incentive to improve animal health now that government grant funding is available for initial veterinary advice.

Dry cows can be given a vaccine to boost dam colostrum quality pre-calving - and then by feeding enough of this fortified milk to newborn calves, control of infectious calf scour can be improved.

Calves are most at risk during the first one to four weeks of life and need a source of protection - through passive transfer of antibodies in the colostrum - to help keep them healthy. On many farms, normal colostrum may not provide enough antibodies.

However, vaccination of the calf’s mother with Bovilis® Rotavec® Corona between 12 and three weeks before calving boosts colostrum quality, allowing you to feed high levels of antibodies against rotavirus, coronavirus and E. coli F5 (K99) in early life.

To ensure the passive transfer of antibodies from the dam to calves, four litres of colostrum - or at least 10% of a calf’s body weight - containing at least 50g/litre of IgG antibodies should be fed within the first four hours of birth.

This should be followed by two litres within 12 hours of birth. For calves left on the cow, getting four litres of colostrum requires approximately 20 minutes of continuous suckling.


Increased usage flexibility

The Bovilis® Rotavec® Corona vaccine from MSD Animal Health is licensed for use up to 28 days after first broaching the vaccine vial*.

This unique extended shelf-life means greater flexibility in preventing infectious scours while reducing any unnecessary vaccine wastage.

And it is available in 10ml - 5 dose, 40ml – 20 dose and 100ml - 50 dose packs.

The vaccine is supplied in polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a lightweight commercial plastic widely used for packaging pharmaceuticals. PET has a significantly smaller production, transportation and disposal carbon footprint compared to glass, requiring less energy to produce.

PET does not break or fracture – and requires nearly seven times less material compared with glass - which means lower carbon dioxide emissions and reduced transportation costs.

This flexible combination of extended in-use shelf-life, different pack sizes and durable PET product packaging makes Bovilis® Rotavec® Corona a highly convenient vaccine choice for use in any farm situation.


1. Johnson et al. (2017) Prospective cohort study to assess rates of contagious disease in pre-weaned UK dairy heifers: management practices, passive transfer of immunity & associated calf health. Veterinary Record Open 2017;4:e000226. doi:10.1136vetreco-2017-000226

2. Economic impact of health and welfare issues in beef cattle and sheep in England. ADAS report, April 2013

*Please refer to the product label or SPC for further information.

BOVILIS® ROTAVEC® CORONA contains inactivated rotavirus and coronavirus and E. coli F5 (K99) antigens. POM-VPS. Further information is available from the SPC, datasheet or package leaflet. Advice should be sought from the medicine prescriber.