Diagnosis and control of cattle calves diarrhoea

Saturday March 06 2021
By Shabibah Nakirigya

Smallholder farmers can control cattle calves’ diarrhoea, a non-responsive disease to treatment by observing hygiene, deworming and laboratory diagnosis.

Treating diarrhoea

Cattle owners often treat diarrhoea of in-house calves with antibiotics. The calves however sometimes do not recover and the diarrhoea continues leading to death.

Some vegetation species such as duosperma eremophilum are associated with worms. Further, pastoralists associate diarrhoea in suckling calves with excess milk.

Calves at risk

Calves are usually infected with worms from the mother. The dormant eggs in the mother become active and larvae migrate to the mammary glands whereby in-house calves are infected after suckling milk of the infected mothers.



The sick calves should be treated with a de-wormer (use a safe, effective, metabolisable and economic de-wormer).  Ensure that the cattle calves are well restrained to avoid choking.

For laboratory diagnosis collect faecal sample for examination in the laboratory. On examination, eggs of the parasite are seen on the specimen.


Also clean the place where cattle sleep to avoid re-infection. It is advisable to treat new animals before introducing them to your herd. Finally, share the knowledge with other cattle owners to increase awareness of the disease in the community.

The dairy industry is faced with various challenges such as the high cost of milk production, low quality of raw milk delivered at the factory gate, fragmentation of supply chains and seasonality of milk supply as well as expensive farm inputs, poor animal husbandry, cattle diseases as well as poor management of dairy marketing systems.

Much of this is related to low skills of farmers in dairy husbandry and fodder management and preservation.

Recent research by the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organisation showed that most pastoralists believe that calves collect worms from the pasture during feeding. The signs of the disease include diarrhoea, colic-abdominal pains and colored mucus.