Wet con­di­tions bring new prob­lems for pro­duc­ers

Mansfield Courier - - PROPERTY GUIDE - By DR PAT KLUVER, Live­stock Biose­cu­rity Net­work Re­gional Man­ager

FARM­ERS have wel­comed wet­ter than nor­mal con­di­tions af­ter some or­di­nary rain­fall in re­cent years, but apart from dev­as­tat­ing floods, an­i­mal health prob­lems can also be an is­sue.

The most re­cent wet spring/sum­mer was 2010/11 and we can look back at some of the lessons learned dur­ing that sea­son. Lame sheep and cat­tle: We have seen a lot more lame­ness in sheep this year, mainly due to wet and boggy con­di­tions caus­ing an in­crease in foot ab­scess, es­pe­cially in heav­ier types of sheep.

Footrot is also be­ing seen in ar­eas where it hasn’t oc­curred for a num­ber of years.

If sheep are lame, it is a good idea to con­firm what is wrong with them - lame sheep are not pro­duc­tive and on­go­ing feet prob­lems can usu­ally be man­aged, or in the case of vir­u­lent footrot, erad­i­cated.

This is not the sea­son to ig­nore that nag­ging in­ter­me­di­ate strain of footrot so get it di­ag­nosed and get rid of it. Lumpy wool and fleece rot: In sheep, we are al­ready see­ing an in­crease in lumpy wool and fleece rot.

Lumpy wool or ‘dermo’ starts as an in­fec­tion on the skin and the sub­se­quent ooze causes the wool to matt to­gether in lumps.

Young sheep are sus­cep­ti­ble due to their open fleece and lumpy wool can make shear­ing im­pos­si­ble.

The dis­ease can be self-lim­it­ing but if a large num­ber of wean­ers are af­fected, and shear­ing is com­ing up, con­sider an­tibi­otics to con­trol the in­fec­tion and al­low the lumps to grow out from the skin level with nat­u­ral wool growth.

Fleece rot is seen with pro­longed wet­ting of the fleece down to the skin, and leads to down­grad­ing of wool and in­creased sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to body strike.

If sheep have a no­tice­able level of fleece rot then con­sider some fly strike pre­ven­tion and see it as an op­por­tu­nity to get rid of it, as sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to fleece rot is a highly her­i­ta­ble char­ac­ter­is­tic. Par­a­sites: In gen­eral, most of the par­a­sites we deal with are worse in warm wet con­di­tions.

Both fleece rot and lumpy wool make sheep sus­cep­ti­ble to fly strike.

Re­mem­ber with blow flies, you breed your own, so if you use preven­tive treat­ment be­fore fly num­bers build up it will save a lot of heartache later in the year.

You may wish to treat early if you are likely to be busy with other things like har­vest or there is a fly prod­uct short­age around Christ­mas.

Mos­qui­toes and midges can also be a prob­lem spread­ing un­pleas­ant vi­ral in­fec­tions like Three Day Sick­ness and Ak­a­bane.

In very wet years, Three Day ex­tends as far as Vic­to­ria, out of its nor­mal range in north­ern New South Wales and Queens­land.

In­testi­nal worms l ove t his t ype of weather, and once tem­per­a­tures start to in­crease, bar­ber’s pole worm will be­come an is­sue in many ar­eas.

Mon­i­tor worm egg counts and look out for sheep with clin­i­cal signs of worm bur­dens.

Liver fluke will be a prob­lem on farm, es­pe­cially in ar­eas that have ex­pe­ri­enced two wet sum­mers as the fluke that built up last year will have mul­ti­plied. Ex­cess feed: Ex­cess feed is al­ways bet­ter than not enough but be cau­tious with weaner sheep welfare and what ap­pears to be am­ple feed on of­fer.

Young sheep don’t usu­ally do well on long stand­ing grass, es­pe­cially if it starts to go rank.

Reg­u­lar mon­i­tor­ing is the key to make sure they are main­tain­ing or slowly gain­ing weight over sum­mer.

With cat­tle, bloat can be an is­sue with clover dom­i­nant pas­tures. Clover and other legumes can cause frothy bloat and cat­tle are most sus­cep­ti­ble in the morn­ing or when they are first in­tro­duced to a pas­ture.

If you see cat­tle with mild bloat, gen­tle move­ment off the pad­dock on to hay with or with­out some bloat oil.

A se­verely bloated cow is an emer­gency re­quir­ing sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion so call your vet straight away.

Bloat can be pre­vented with spray­ing, cap­sules or avoid­ing dan­ger­ous pas­tures.

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