New Zealand dairy calf meal (and pellets) should contain a coccidiostat. Coccidiostats keep the number of coccidia parasites low rather than completely eliminating infection. In New Zealand conditions calves can be very susceptible to coccidiosis when meal feeding ceases and the parasite numbers rapidly multiply. The calves ingest oocysts from contaminated pasture, feed and water or by grooming each other. Oocysts can survive in the pasture for up to 2 years when the conditions are cool and wet. In many cases, coccidiosis coincides with other stressors such as trucking calves to a grazing property, and associated feed and social structure change.
Studies done at Massey University showed calves that were treated with a liquid coccidiocide (such as Toltrox) at weaning grew faster compared to calves not treated. The treated calves had a significant 3-5 kg weight advantage 5-6 weeks after weaning.1
Coccidiosis in calves is an important disease that has a damaging effect on the gut. In mild cases, calves may have lower-than-expected weight gain and rough coats, in more severe cases calves may additionally strain, have bloody diarrhoea, and appear lethargic and dehydrated. While calves eventually develop immunity to the parasite there is a significant cost due to long-term effects on growth rates. Use of Toltrox following weaning from meal kills all stages of the coccidia lifecycle, prevents disease, and maintains calf health and productivity over this important period.
Be particularly alert for signs of reduced growth rates, straining or bloody diarrhoea, especially in calves aged 1-8 months old, and/or on farms with historical issues of calves not thriving after weaning from meal.
Toltrox is available in 1L and 5L backpacks with drench guns also available. Talk to your vet or look for the Toltrox display at your local clinic.
1Jones-Gaddam M, et al. 2004. Coccidiosis in claves around weaning and the use of Toltrazuril. Proceedings of the 34th Annual Seminar, Society of Sheep & Beef Cattle Veterinarians of the NZVA.