Manage animal health issues as wet conditions linger

Farmers affected by the recent floods and storms are encouraged to monitor the health of their stock as wet conditions continue to affect parts of Victoria.

Floods and sustained wet paddocks can bring a range of animal health problems, from food shortage and plant toxicity to dehydration, infection and disease.

Agriculture Victoria Veterinary Officer Dr Jeff Cave said pasture and crops damaged by flooding may leave farmers needing to find alternative feed for stock over the coming months.

“In particular, mould growth on water-damaged feed reduces the nutritive value and palatability of both standing and stored feed, with some mould toxicity causing death or longer-term health problems such as liver damage,” Dr Cave said.

“Surprisingly, dehydration can also be a problem with stock often refusing to drink flood water if it is polluted or tastes different from their normal supply.

“Farmers and producers in flood-affected areas should watch their stock carefully to ensure they are drinking adequately and monitor them for any signs of illness and infection.”

Lameness is another concern with all stock breeds susceptible after long periods of immersion in water or standing on wet, muddy ground.

Abscesses and other foot problems will be common where an animal’s feet are constantly wet.

Most bacteria thrive and multiply in a moist environment, so bacterial diseases could become a real problem after heavy rain.

Pneumonia and diarrhoea are also likely to occur in flood-affected stock due to stress and exposure to prolonged cold.

Mastitis is a problem as a result of the combined effects of udder abrasions and poor hygiene associated with muddy conditions.

Vaccinating with 5-in-1 after floods is important as the sudden flush of feed can make stock susceptible to pulpy kidney.

Bloat in cattle or redgut in sheep could occur, especially on lush clover or lucerne.

Worm larvae survive much longer on pasture in moist conditions and parasite burdens may increase rapidly.

Establishing a stock containment area with adequate shelter, feed and water supply will be beneficial in maintaining the heath of your stock.

If your stock are experiencing health issues seek professional help, either from your private veterinarian, or local Agriculture Victoria Animal Health Officer or District Veterinary Officer.

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