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Livestock management advice following floods

by Beef Central, 06 February 2013

Producers in flood affected areas of Queensland and New South Wales are being warned to watch out for animal diseases that can occur after severe wet weather.

Biosecurity Queensland's Principal Veterinary Officer Dr Jonathan Lee said while some stock losses following a flood event were expected, producers should report any significant livestock losses or unusual symptoms in their animals to their local veterinarian or Biosecurity Queensland (ph  13 25 23) as soon as possible.

"Producers and livestock owners who can access and manage their stock need to be vigilant in regularly checking and monitoring their animals' health and wellbeing," Dr Lee said.

"With more biting flies and mosquitoes around following the floods we would expect some increased transmission of insect borne diseases, including three-day sickness in cattle. Stock being worried by insects may also occur.

"Other things to look out for are signs of mastitis in dairy cattle, and livestock poisoning from toxic plant seeds that could have become displaced during flooding."

Livestock owners are encouraged to take preventative actions where possible.

Dr Lee said in times of natural disasters, the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) helped to return displaced livestock to their owners.

"Residents who have stray livestock on their properties can email NLIS administration at NLIS_admin@daff.qld.gov.au or contact the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23."

New South Wales Department of Primary Industries (DPI) regional veterinary officer Paul Freeman said mould on stock feed, lameness among animals and water quality in farm dams are just some of the issues farmers need to look out for following the floods.

“With pastures and crops water-logged in many areas, the loss of feed means livestock owners are providing hay or silage to their animals,” Mr Freeman said.

“Stockowners are advised to be on the lookout for mould that can develop on feed that has been damaged by water – and avoid feeding it to livestock.

“Some moulds are toxic and may cause sudden death or longer-term health problems, such as liver damage.

“Moulds can also decrease the nutritive value and taste of feed.”

Mr Freeman said with limited dry areas, it can be difficult for livestock owners to manage feeding stock in confined spaces.

“If possible place the feed into hay racks off the ground to avoid it being walked on, spoiled and wasted,” Mr Freeman said.

“Also, try to provide livestock with adequate space to feed, with safe access for both big and small animals, to avoid bullying.”

He said the wet weather can cause the animal’s feet to become soft and sensitive so it’s important to reduce the risk of foot lameness.

“Try to reduce the need to move stock over tracks exposed to rough, rocky ground that can cause damage to their feet,” he said.

Mr Freeman said the water quality of farm dams can deteriorate after floods with large quantities of silt and organic material washed into creeks and water storages.

“Check for algal blooms and polluted dam water and ensure that stock have clean drinking water.”

Stock returning from agistment should be isolated and under observation for 14 days before mixing with other stock to reduce the risk of introduced disease.

It is important for stock to be checked frequently to detect any developing disease problems. Producers are encouraged to talk to their private veterinary practitioner or Livestock Health and Pest Authority (LHPA) District Veterinarian if they have any concerns. 

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