The Prevention of Coccidiosis in Calves

Date: 30/04/14

The Prevention of Coccidiosis in Calves

What is Coccidiosis in Calves

Coccidiosis is caused by single-celled parasites known as coccidian. The species that cause disease are primarily found in the large intestine lining. Coccidiosis is possible in cattle up to two years old, and is particularly common in calves between three weeks and six months of age. Infection can spread directly between calves but the majority of infection spreads via a contaminated environment. Infected calves pass out large numbers of the egg stage of the parasite (known as the oocysts). Oocysts can survive for long periods in the environment as they are highly resistant to heat, cold and many standard disinfectants. So unless the environment is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with a Coccidial disinfectant such as Kilcox Extra between batched of calves, infection can easily spread. Infection most commonly happens indoors on bedding where mixed age groups of calves are housed.

Clinical Signs

The most common sign of Coccidiosis is a watery diarrhoea. Damage to the intestine caused by coccidian is often shown by straining (which can become severe), mucous and blood. Other signs can include depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, and in rare cases, dehydration. Extreme cases can result in death.

Sub-clinical infections are 95% of total incidences of coccidiosis. Although the symptoms are not visible to naked eye sub-clinical infections result in reduced calf growth and weight gain – the major economic losses associated with coccidiosis.


To achieve effective control of coccidian, good management is vital. This should include:

  1. Reducing stocking density
  2. Regularly moving feed and water troughs
  3. Prevention of faecal contamination of feed through water troughs
  4. Ensuring clean, dry bedding to reduce contamination
  5. Rearing calves in same age, all in-all out batch systems
  6. Preventative medication can be used, but it is no substitute for good management and biosecurity


  1. Muck out the calf pen thoroughly, ensuring all faecal matter is removed
  2. Pressure wash the pens
  3. Apply Kilco’s Ecofoam Advanced through a pressure washer with a foaming lance at a dilution rate of 1:50
  4. Leave for 10-30 minutes
  5. Rinse with clean, cold water
  6. Remove any excess, standing water from floors etc
  7. Disinfect the are by applying Kilcox Extra at a dilution rate of 1-3% and an application rate of 0.3L/m2, allow to dry
  8. Add fresh, clean, dry straw to the pen

Kiclox Extra – a key weapon in the fight against Coccidiosis

Kilcox Extra is DEFRA approved (General Orders, Diseases of Poultry/Avian Influenza, Swine Vesicular Disease) product which contains 40% by weight of biocidal actives.

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