Thei­le­ria rates a worry as gypsy day ap­proaches

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

in the num­ber of re­ported cases of cat­tle with thei­le­ria has prompted a warn­ing for farm­ers to check stock for signs of the dis­ease.

The num­ber of di­ag­nosed cases rose from 495 on March 19 to 547 on April 16, ac­cord­ing to new data from the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries.

Most of the cases re­ported are from dairy farms but there was also an in­crease in the num­ber re­ported in beef-farm­ing en­ter­prises.

The lo­ca­tion of cases re­mained in Auck­land, Waikato and Bay of Plenty. Thei­le­rio­sis had a big im­pact on farms last spring when more than 350 cases were con­firmed.

The dis­ease causes anaemia in cows and is spread by ticks, DairyNZ chief sci­en­tist Dr Eric Hiller­ton said.

There was now a height­ened risk be­cause of au­tumn calv­ing, stock move­ments and re­cent rain.

‘‘Dur­ing calv­ing, cows’ im­mune sys­tems and en­ergy re­quire­ments change as they tran­si­tion to milk­ing and it makes their im­mune sys­tem less ef­fi­cient and the cows more sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tion,’’ Hiller­ton said.

Tick ac­tiv­ity would in­crease, so farm­ers needed to check cat­tle and talk to their vet about treat­ment op­tions if they found ticks, he said.

‘‘With stock mov­ing off­farm to win­ter graz­ing and gypsy day [when farms tra­di­tion­ally change hands] loom­ing, there is in­creased risk of thei­le­rio­sis spread­ing to un­in­fected cat­tle.’’

Stock move­ment is the most im­por­tant fac­tor in man­ag­ing the spread of thei­le­rio­sis, as in­fected an­i­mals take it to a new lo­ca­tion or are in­tro­duced to healthy an­i­mals.

‘‘The best way to min­imise the risk of in­fec­tion is by good biose­cu­rity, in­clud­ing stock man­age­ment and ap­ply­ing tick con­trol when nec­es­sary, es­pe­cially if mov­ing cat­tle off-farm or pur­chas­ing new cows.’’

Signs of thei­le­rio­sis in­cluded lethargy, pale mu­cous mem­branes, ex­er­cise in­tol­er­ance, and in­creased re­s­pi­ra­tory and heart rates.

‘‘Farm­ers may no­tice an­i­mals lag­ging be­hind the mob when be­ing shifted or ly­ing down in the pad­dock. The an­i­mals are also likely to be off their food and ap­pear hol­low-sided,’’ Hiller­ton said.

‘‘Cows with thei­le­rio­sis should be given rest, high­qual­ity feed and wa­ter, and be han­dled only when ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. Farm­ers should also con­tact their vet­eri­nar­ian for ad­vice.’’

Hiller­ton is speak­ing about thei­le­rio­sis at a work­shop at the DairyNZ Farm­ers’ Fo­rum in Hamil­ton on May 7 and 8.

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