Article about the importance of herd health management
Preserving herd health is essential to success in beef cattle production. A knowledge of health problems that affect beef cattle is vital. Developing a herd health program and knowing the proper routes of administration for giving vaccinations and medicines are an important part of maintaining herd health. A producer should work closely with a veterinarian to help keep his or her cattle healthy.
Herd Health Problems of Beef Cattle
Many diseases can affect beef cattle. A few of the major disorders are listed below. Producers should be familiar with their symptoms to be able to identify herd health problems.
Anaplasmosis - This disease is caused by parasites spread by biting insects. It results in the destruction of oxygen carrying red blood cells. Symptoms include weight loss and labored breathing. Affected animals may die of a lack of oxygen. Controlling insects and giving vaccinations can help to prevent anaplasmosis. It is treated with tetracycline, a treated mineral, or daily doses of other antibiotics.
Blackleg - Blackleg is one disease caused by the clostridia microorganism. This disease usually results in the death of fast-growing calves. Symptoms include swollen and inflamed muscles and lameness. Gas from swollen muscles builds up under the skin and makes a crackling noise when pressed. Vaccines are inexpensive and very effective.
Bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV) - This virus weakens the respiratory system, making the animal more vulnerable to infection. Symptoms include discharge from the mouth and nose, fever, and a hacking cough. Calves are more likely to become ill, especially ones that are under stress. Producers can vaccinate animals against this disease.
Bovine virus diarrhea (BVD) - BVD can cause severe diarrhea in cattle. Other symptoms that may be present include fever, coughing, and nasal discharge. It can be prevented through vaccinations.
Brucellosis - Brucellosis is an incurable reproductive disease causing abortions. Cows and bulls may also become sterile. Because the disease has no cure, infected animals must be slaughtered to keep it from spreading. Producers should vaccinate replacement heifers as calves. The microorganism that causes the disease can also infect human beings.
Fescue foot - Fescue foot is a nutritional health problem that occurs in cattle pastured on tall fescue due to a toxin in the fescue. In severe cases, the animal may lose one or both of the rear hooves, as well as the tips of the ears and tail. Other symptoms include an arched back, rough coat, and stiffness or lameness. One way to prevent fescue foot is mixing legumes with the fescue.
Grass tetany - This nutritional disorder is found in cattle grazed on grass pastures that have insufficient levels of magnesium. It usually occurs in lactating cows but may develop in other cattle.
Some symptoms are trembling and staggering. If untreated, it may cause death. Prevention involves feeding cattle magnesium supplements. The disorder is treated with intravenous administration of a solution containing magnesium and calcium.
Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR, red nose) - IBR is caused by a virus and takes several forms. One form is a respiratory disease characterized by fever, nasal discharge, and a reddened muzzle. In females, another form attacks the reproductive system and causes abortions and inflammation of the vagina and vulva. A third type is similar to pinkeye. Cattle should be vaccinated for IBR.
Leptospirosis - Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals. Symptoms of this disease include fever, rapid respiration, poor appetite, and jaundice. It causes abortions, weak calves, and stillbirths. Five different strains of leptospirosis exist, so producers should consult their veterinarian to learn which vaccine is appropriate. Humans can get this disease from cattle.
Pinkeye - This disease causes the eye to develop a pinkish color or, in the more serious form of the disease, to water and develop a white, cloudy film. Blindness may occur. Vaccinations can be used to help control pinkeye. Proper fly control also seems to help limit outbreaks of this disease.
Scours - Scours is a complex condition that can have many causes, including BVD. It causes severe diarrhea in calves and can cause death. Producers can vaccinate cattle before calving as an aid in prevention, although good sanitation is also important in controlling this disease.
Shipping fever (parainfluenza-3 virus or PI-3, pasteurella, hemophilus pneumonia) - Shipping fever is a term commonly used to refer to several respiratory diseases.
High fever, coughing, difficulty in breathing, and discharge from the eyes and nose are symptoms. This disease often appears in cattle that are under stress. It can be prevented with vaccinations.
Vibriosis - Vibriosis is a disease spread among females by the bull during breeding. It results in abortions with no outward signs of disease. It also causes poor conception rates. Vaccines are available to prevent the disease.