When cows with metabolic disease go down, it may be difficult to get them on their feet again - they become ‘downer cows’. Usually the initial cause is milk fever, then either grass staggers or acetonaemia can develop as well. All three can occur together.
There are hundreds of different diseases that can affect poultry, and free-range chickens may be more or less at risk.
Diarrhoea (or scours) can be a problem in hand-reared lambs, calves and kids in the first week or two of life. It’s a lot easier to prevent scours than to treat it, and the key to prevention is ensuring good feed quality, appropriate feeding regimes and good hygiene.
Vaccination of ewes against the clostridial diseases such as pulpy kidney and tetanus is good insurance against losses in lambs, because lambs are passively protected by antibodies in their mother’s colostrum for up to 3 months.
Thirty years ago leptospirosis was one of the most common zoonoses in NZ with over 400 human cases a year, mainly in dairy farm workers. In recent years the widespread vaccination of pigs and dairy cattle has reduced the number of human cases to fewer than 100 a year. However there are still plenty of infected livestock on farms.