Diarrhea is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in pre-weaned dairy calves and, as such, represents a significant animal health and welfare concern. Furthermore, digestive disease early in life is associated with several long-term consequences such as reduced growth rate and decreased milk yield during the first lactation, thus generating severe economic losses. The majority of diarrheic cases in young calves are treated with antimicrobials; however, it is necessary to develop alternative treatments, as excessive antimicrobial usage can lead to antimicrobial resistance and can negatively impact the gut microflora of a calf. Bovine colostrum is abundant in immune and bioactive factors that improve immune function and development. This rich and natural combination of immunoglobulins, natural antimicrobial factors, growth factors, anti-inflammatories and nutrients may be an attractive alternative to antimicrobials in the treatment of diarrhea in young dairy calves. There is evidence that supports the use of colostrum as an early treatment for diarrhea in young calves. Future research should investigate its therapeutic and economic effectiveness.

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Published in Animals, v. 11, issue 8, 2221.

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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