The articles below cover a number of topics about livestock health and farming. There are more articles in the other sections of lifestyle file for specific species. If you're looking for something in particular then use the search box above. If not, then browse the article titles and see what there is to help you. If you can't find an answer here then why not ask in our discussion forums? One of the very friendly and helpful members is sure to be able to help you.
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Johne's disease - Overview
You might well have heard of Johne’s disease because it’s a common problem in ruminants. But even if you’ve heard of it, you may not know much about it.
Johne's disease - Part Two: The Disease in Goats and Sheep
Have any goats on your farm died after losing weight steadily? Did they develop severe diarrhoea? Did their condition worsen over a period of weeks or months?
Johne's disease - Part Three: The Disease in Cattle and deer
Johne’s disease is a particular problem in cattle and deer for several reasons. It causes slowly progressive and incurable scouring and weight loss leading to death or euthanasia.
Lameness in Livestock - Part 1
Most animals on the farm will be lame at some time or other, especially the animals that live to a good age like horses, ponies, donkeys, dairy cows, pet goats and sheep.
Lameness in Livestock - Part 2:Lameness in horses, ponies and donkeys
You know how uncomfortable it is when you have a stone in your shoe or an infected toenail? Then you can imagine how painful it is for your horse or pony when he has an injured or infected foot.
Lameness in Livestock - Part 3: Lameness in Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Deer
Practically every farmer has to deal with lame livestock at some time or other. It’s a common problem in goats and sheep, and it can be a problem in cattle. Occasionally it’s a problem in deer.
Neurological signs in cattle, sheep, deer and horses
Yes, it’s a mouthful, but “neurological” just means “relating to the central nervous system”, and the central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord.
Some livestock just don’t do as well as they should, even when they have plenty of pasture.
Lumps & Bumps
Lumps, bumps, bruises and swellings of all types are all too common in livestock. So if you spot a lump on your horse or cattle-beast or sheep, what does it mean?
Abortions - ewes and cows
Abortions can occur at any stage of pregnancy, although usually only mid to late-term aborted foetuses are big enough to be noticed.
Birth problems - calving, lambing, kidding, foaling
Spring is a wonderful time on the farm. It means a new crop of youngsters - lambs and kids, calves and foals - beautiful, delicate little creatures that represent your farming future.
Metabolic Diseases Overview
In late pregnancy and early lactation, ewes and cows are under great metabolic stress. Their foetuses grow fast in late pregnancy, and after giving birth they have to produce a lot of milk.
Metabolic Diseases - Hypomagnesaemia
Hypomagnesaemia is relatively common in cows in heavy lactation and on lush pasture (inadequate energy intake and low magnesium content).
Metabolic Diseases - Hypocalcaemia
Milk fever in beef and dairy cows occurs most often in high-producing older cows within 48 hours of calving, but it can occur several weeks before or after calving.
Metabolic Diseases - Downer Cows
When cows with metabolic disease go down, it may be difficult to get them on their feet again - they become ‘downer cows’.
Castration, disbudding and tail docking - not nice but necessary!
For just about as long as animals have been farmed, they’ve been routinely subjected to several painful husbandry/surgical procedures that make it easier for their owners to manage them - and they may make life easier for the animals too.
Castration of lambs, kids and calves
Most male cattle, sheep, and goats are castrated while they are young, to make their management easier. It goes without saying that castration can be a very painful and distressing experience for the animal.
Disbudding of calves and kids
Disbudding of calves and kids means removing the very early developing horn base to prevent horn growth. It’s a procedure carried out routinely for management reasons.
Facial eczema (FE)
FE is a disease of sheep, cattle, goats, and deer. It also affects alpacas but not horses.
Feet and foot problems
Foot problems can affect all sorts of animals at any time of year and should be treated promptly. Animals need to be able to walk to access food and shelter and an animal in constant pain is not going to thrive.
Teeth and Teeth Problems
Cattle, goats, sheep, and other ruminants have no upper incisors - they have a hard dental pad, and their bottom incisors (eight of them) bite against that.
When farm animals develop acute pneumonia the signs are dullness and difficulty with breathing (heaving sides, rapid breathing, head low and extended).
Giving injections to animals
When giving injections always get veterinary advice to make sure the injections are appropriate and you know the correct procedure.
Ryegrass staggers is a neurological disease of sheep, cattle, horses and ponies, deer and alpaca. Alpacas appear to be particularly susceptible.
Internal Parasites - Worms
Gastrointestinal worms (in the stomach and intestine) are without doubt one of the biggest threats to the health and welfare of grazing animals in New Zealand.
Drenching to avoid drench resistance in your stock
Most adult roundworms live in the gut of the animal, (usually the small intestine) where they suck the animal’s blood, reproduce and shed eggs that pass out in the faeces onto the pasture.
Drench (anthelmintic) resistance is a huge and growing problem on livestock farms, particularly with sheep and goats.
Vaccination - Cost-Effective Insurance Against Disease
Vaccination of ewes against clostridial diseases such as pulpy kidney and tetanus is good insurance against losses in lambs.
Iodine is another vital nutrient and a trace element, and although deficiencies are not as common as those caused by copper, selenium and magnesium, deficiencies can still occur in a few areas.