Vaccinating for Scours

By Ceanna Tannas, AHT

What is it?

Scour vaccines are available to help prevent the incidence, severity and duration of calf-hood scours; they are for use in healthy, pregnant cattle. Scour Bos® is one of the products available that contains both viral and bacterial antigens for the prevention of scours.


Scours can be quite common on the farm and can mount significant economic loss from not only treatment costs, but also death loss and even performance loss. Vaccination for scours can help reduce some of these costs, when combined with a proper management strategy.

When vaccinated with antigens, like the ones found in Scour Bos®, cows produce antibodies that are then transferred to their calves during colostrum intake. These antibodies form a defence against pathogens that the calves may be exposed to in the future.

Administration of Scour Bos®

There is an app available for iPad which uses a wheel to determine when to vaccinate based on breeding date or expected calving date. You can also visit their website and find a similar wheel, but here are the basics:


Heifers/ New Cows to the Scour Bos Program

  1. Scour Bos®9: 8-16 weeks prior to calving
  2. Scour Bos®4 (booster): 4 weeks prior to calving

Annual Revaccination

Scour Bos®9: 8-10 weeks prior to calving

Other Considerations

Scour vaccines can help reduce the impact of scours in your herd, but there are many factors to consider.

Scour Bos® provides protection against some bacterial and viral antigens, but there are still many other bacteria and viruses that can cause calves to develop scours.  Scour vaccines provide some protection, but vaccinating will not eliminate scours from your herd.

crop picAdequate herd nutrition and health, as well as proper colostrum management provides the greatest resistance to scours. Producers should ensure dams are properly nourished and are on a vaccination protocol that is appropriate. Ensuring adequate colostrum intake in all calves, as well as supplementing those that have had a difficult birth, those born as twins and those calves that are having trouble sucking is important in order to avoid inadequate passive transfer to help in the prevention of scours and other health issues.

Lowering the environmental challenge is another strategy in preventing scours in your herd.  Some important factors for reducing the pathogenic load in the environment are: keeping pastures clean, dry and well bedded; maintaining appropriate stocking density; taking proper bio-security measures when introducing new cattle to your herd; managing separate wintering, calving and nursing pastures.

Talk to your herd health veterinarian to find out more about vaccination protocols and management strategies that would best suit your operation.