Seasonal livestock health issues to look out for

Your livestock are extremely valuable at the moment – you may have fed them through drought or recently restocked. Either way, keeping them in good health is key to maximising production and practicing sound animal welfare.

An improvement in seasonal conditions (although it has dried off a bit recently) has seen the return of some of our traditional spring livestock health issues including Barber’s Pole worm and Pulpy Kidney.

Barber’s Pole worms are blood-suckers and don’t cause diarrhoea or weight loss as first signs. Rainfall and warm weather ensure worm eggs on pasture rapidly develop into larvae and re-infect sheep. They cause weak sheep with pale gums and sudden death if you are not monitoring your flock.

Regular worm egg counts to determine worm burden will help to avoid a crash. Ensure drenches used are effective and seek advice about taking an integrated approach to worm management on your property.

Prevent Barber’s Pole worm with Barbavax by completing the vaccination induction program to develop immunity, followed by regular boosters. The program is quite rigid but results are excellent. Anyone considering using Barbavax should discuss how to fit the program into their management calendar before starting.

We recommend regular worm egg monitoring in sheep flocks whether using Barbavax or oral drenches. Well timed use of effective drenches is the key to minimising the impact of worms and reducing the development of resistance.

If we do get some good spring rain, remember that lush pasture also stimulates rapid growth of gut microbes. Among these are the Clostridia, some of which cause pulpy kidney. There are rarely any warning signs before you find dead animals so make certain that all livestock are recently (within the last 2 months) vaccinated with a 5-in-1 at the very least. And be sure to keep your 5-in-1 vaccinations up to date leading into marking to protect your precious calves. Calves and lambs require 2 vaccinations 4 to 6 weeks apart to be fully protected.

If you are buying stock consider starting their 5 in 1 vaccination program from scratch, with 2 vaccinations 4 to 6 weeks apart. This way you know they are protected.

For more information on the health of your livestock call your nearest Northern Tablelands Local Land Services office on 02 6732 8800.

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