To evaluate the efficacy of halofuginone lactate (Halocur; Intervet) when used prophylactically against cryptosporidiosis in dairy calves, 513 Holstein heifer calves were randomly distributed between two experimental groups. Those in the treatment group (n=259) received 0.1 mg halofuginone base per kg bodyweight daily in a 10 ml solution, for the first seven days following birth, while those in the control group (n=254) received an equal volume of a placebo solution. Faecal samples were collected weekly from all calves until three weeks of age to test for Cryptosporidium oocysts and to assess the diarrhoeal status. Growth parameters of the calves were also recorded at approximately four months of age. Calves that received halofuginone were significantly less likely to shed Cryptosporidium oocysts during the course of the study than placebo-treated calves (odds ratio 0.6, 95 per cent confidence interval 0.4 to 0.9, P=0.009). Mean growth measurements of calves in the treated group were consistently higher than those of the control calves (hipometer-derived P=0.052, wither height P=0.097) and mortality was lower in the treated group (P=0.07). However, these differences were not statistically significant (P>0.05). No association was found between the prophylactic use of halofuginone and the incidence of calf diarrhoea.
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