Soaked pastures bring new problems for livestock producers, says David Fernandez, Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
"Livestock producers should be on the lookout for increased incidences of hoof problems and internal parasites," says Fernandez.
Livestock hooves soften if animals are pastured on wet ground or housed in damp pens for extended time. Softer hooves are more susceptible to cuts, tears, or abrasions creating an opening for organisms that cause foot rot. Avoid placing animals on hard or gravel surfaces until their hooves have dried out to reduce the likelihood of cuts, tears or abrasions, advises Fernandez.
Organisms that cause hoof rot thrive in moist environments. Producers should be on the lookout for lame animals and examine their hooves. Foul-smelling odors, heat and inflammation at the coronary band where the hoof adjoins the pastern are signs of the disease. Producers should trim the hoof to remove damaged or dead tissue and then treat the affected food with one of the following:
- Antibacterial sprays (20 percent cetrimide and 1.3 percent oxytetracycline in water and alcohol)
- Footbaths (10 percent zinc sulfate,10 percent copper sulfate or 5 percent formaldehyde solutions)
- Footsoaks (1 hour in a solution of 10 percent zinc sulfate and 0.2 percent v/v of laundry detergent containing nonionic surfactants or the surfactant sodium lauryl sulfate)
A vaccine against hoof rot is available for sheep but not approved for goats.
Wet weather creates conditions favorable for internal parasites to infect animals on pasture. Liver flukes, which can cause death in sheep, (usually via black disease which destroys liver tissue), and significant economic losses in dairy and beef cattle are more common in wet weather, says Fernandez.
Barber pole worm, large stomach worm, wire worm, medium or brown stomach worm and small stomach worm are aided by wet weather. Scours, anemia and unthriftiness are common signs of a heavy internal parasite infestation.
"Bottle jaw," swelling under the jaw caused by fluid escaping from the blood vessels, is a serious indicator of barber pole worm infestation in sheep, goats and calves. "Unfortunately, many dewormers used against barber pole wormare becoming ineffective," he says.
Wet weather creates conditions ripe for ticks. Some producers are already reporting high levels of tick infestations on their cattle, says Fernandez. Treat ticks with dips, sprays, pour-ons or ear tags. Severe infestations can cause sheep and goats to become anemic. Tick bites can cause swelling, redness and localized infections.
"Ticks are also the primary transmitter of anaplasmosis, which causes severe anemia and can kill livestock in hours," says Fernandez. Older cattle are more susceptible to the more severe forms of the disease than are calves or heifers. Infected cows may exhibit rapid weight loss, off-feed, incoordination, breathlessness and brown urine. Fevers up to 106 F may occur, and pregnant cows may abort. Anaplasmosis is treated with tetracycline.
Contact your veterinarian for the correct dosage and side effects. Be sure to inject in the neck muscle and observe the withdrawal period. A vaccine is approved in the United States, but it may not be available.