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Posted: 07/26/2022
Newborn dairy calf curled up in a bed of straw

Skip the Scours. Start with First Defense!

Managing a herd of breeding cows requires significant knowledge, precise timing and a sizable investment to succeed. With so many variables that can affect the success of the operation, wouldn’t it help to secure proven tools that protect this investment for the long haul?

Farmers are making the switch to ImmuCell's First Defense products for guaranteed levels of specific antibodies that have been proven to protect against scours (both bacterial and viral). After you’ve invested in a cow’s care, the arrival of a new calf is not the time to gamble. See how you can give each calf a great start with antibody protection from First Defense.

How to Treat Calf Scours

Calf scours (or diarrhea) leads to dehydration and is the leading cause of death for calves less than a month old. For those pre-weaned heifer calves that do survive, the USDA says the overall health status can greatly impact growth, reproductive efficiency, and milk production. Scours cases and similar illnesses increase the death risk prior to calving by 2.5 times. In other words, the impact of scours far outlasts the early days – it can play a role in lifetime production and ultimately, in your operation’s bottom line.

Scours calf treatment is certainly an option, though it can get costly. Antibiotics, electrolytes, vet and/or labor costs all add up. That’s why the best way to treat calf scours is to prevent it all together.

A More Direct Approach Than Vaccination

Many farmers vaccinate a female with the hope that she passes immunity to her calf. However, vaccination does not equal immunization. Variables like animal stress and vaccine handling can prevent a protective immune response for 20-30% of calves. Plus there’s no way to determine which ones generated immunity.

First Defense offers a much more direct approach. It allows farmers to remove the scours vaccine for the mother and give direct antibodies to the calf at birth. These antibodies deliver proven protection against scours, not to mention the peace of mind that means your investment will pay off with a healthy calf.

First Defense Line of Products

When delivered within 12 hours after birth, First Defense products provide guaranteed immediate antibody-driven immunity for your calves. How? First Defense collects antibody-rich colostrum that’s purified and concentrated, then standardized to guarantee substantial levels for each dose. Antibodies bind to, and neutralize scours-causing disease antigens before they can enter and hurt other cells in a calf’s body. It means First Defense delivers instant immunity – the calves aren’t required to trigger an immune response, and there’s no vaccination stress inflicted on the newborn.

Because First Defense pre-forms and potency tests its antibodies, farmers know the exact level of protection they’re getting and it’s consistent from calf to calf. That’s not the case with vaccination. And, there’s no need for annual boosters here either. Learn more about each of these USDA-approved veterinary biologics and see how they compare.

Tri-Shield Paste

First Defense® Tri-Shield®

There’s a reason Tri-Shield is our best-selling First Defense item. This one-time preventative treatment protects newborn calves against K99+ E. coli, Coronavirus and Rotavirus. Simply deliver by placing the tube tip at the back of the calf’s throat and squeeze the contents of the entire tube into the calf's mouth. Ensure the calf swallows all the gel.

Customer Reviews:

“Easy delivery method to replace a bolus and an injection.”

“This gives a calf a great start!”

“Easy to administer orally.”

First Defense Bolus

First Defense® Calf Boluses

The calf bolus product has 10 reviews on our website – all with 5 stars. They’re shelf stable and more cost effective than the gel for farmers who are comfortable administering them. These directly deliver specific immunoglobulins at the gut level to immediately protect against the two major causes of calf scours (K99+ E. coli and Coronavirus). Plus, they provide additional antibodies that are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Dual Force Gel

First Defense® Dual-Force® Gel Tube

The Dual-Force gel offers the same technology as the boluses but in an easy-to-administer gel tube. Unlike the boluses, Dual-Force’s traceable blue gel tracks through the calf’s stool to show that they received it. The product must be refrigerated. Customer Reviews:

“My neighbor and I give this to every heifer calf as soon as it hits the ground. We have had very good success integrating this into our heifer raising program.”

“Easy to use and have had no problems with calves.”

First Defense Powder

First Defense® Technology Powder

For an even more economical option, try this nutritional supplement powder. It carries the same ingredients as the boluses and is also shelf stable in its resealable bucket. Add one level scoop to your calf's first liquid feeding and mix until it’s completely dissolved. Ideally, mix it with fresh, thawed colostrum. This product may be suitable for use on organic farms, too. As always, check with your certifier to confirm.

Shop PBS Animal Health to Give Calves a Great Start

Join the thousands of cattlemen and women who have discovered First Defense. Shop the entire line of products on our website today, or visit to learn more about this innovative and reliable resource.

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