With record rainfall in Oklahoma, producers have their hands full taking care of their livestock. Unfortunately, wet conditions create additional problems for livestock. Moist damp conditions can lower immunity which makes animals more susceptible to infections. Most illnesses will occur during or shortly after the adverse weather event. However, some diseases may not occur for several months.
When the skin and hooves remain wet for long periods of time, the physical properties of the tissues that are a barrier to microorganisms begin to break down. This results in skin and foot infections developing. The most important thing a producer should do is to pay close attention to their cows during these wet conditions. Any skin lesions found should be treated. At the first sign of lameness, cattle should be examined for any signs of foot rot and treated promptly.
The wet muddy conditions that the animals are dealing with now are stressful. Stress lowers immunity. Young animals are especially vulnerable. Two common diseases that young animals get are pneumonia and diarrhea. Producers should observe their herds closely for any signs of these diseases.
Internal parasites are always a problem in small ruminants, but with all the extra moisture this could be a bad summer for all animals. Nematodes (roundworms) thrive in moisture and warm temperatures. Producers need to keep a close watch on their animals for any signs of parasitism such as anemia, bottle jaw, diarrhea, and rough hair coat. It is a good idea for producers to do fecal egg counts to monitor their herds. Cattle producers may be wise to check for liver flukes. Sheep and goat producers should be routinely using the FAMACHA eye score chart to monitor for internal parasites in their herds. Coccidiosis may be more a problem in young animals at this time due to the rainy conditions. When animals congregate in small areas to avoid the inclement weather, they are more prone to contaminate food and water sources.
With all the standing water, mosquitoes could be a problem this summer. Horse owners should protect their animals by limiting standing water as much as possible and by applying an approved equine insecticide. Horses should also be up to date on West Nile Virus, Eastern Encephalitis Virus, and Western Encephalitis Virus vaccinations.
Another disease to be aware of is leptospirosis. With abundance of water, animals may drink from sources that are contaminated with Leptospira organism. Cattle with leptospirosis will have a fever and poor appetite. Severely infected animals will develop anemia, jaundice, and may have dark urine. Producers need to vaccinate their cattle for Leptospira. Any sick animals will need to be treated. They should consult with their veterinarian for the best treatment options.
Lastly, two diseases that tend to follow flooding events are blackleg and anthrax. Outbreaks of both diseases tend to occur in the summer following flooding events. Flood waters disturb the soil which expose the spores. The spores may be carried by the flood waters to areas where cattle graze. The spores in the grass may be ingested by livestock. This is especially true if the grass becomes short due to over grazing or dry conditions. The most common clinical sign for the two diseases is sudden death. Producers who lose animals without signs of illness should contact their local veterinarian for a diagnosis.
For additional information about the above diseases, producers should contact their local veterinarian or local Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service County Educator.
Pasture recovery from flooding
Below are a few good factsheets on dealing with pasture recovery following a flooding event:
The biggest thing we are seeing now, especially with more rain in the forecast, is that we are still a ways off from any shot at restoring normality in our forages and crops. Some of the biggest issues to plant loss will be based on species, depth of flood water, duration of flooding, water temp and degree of sedimentation on leaves. The latter will also force many producers hands as to reclamation strategies since silt deposits on leaves cause reduced photosynthesis, decreased palatability and digestibility of forage, not to mention potential spread of soil borne pathogens that can affect both the plant and the grazing livestock.
Livestock losses due to flooding
This link is the latest general information submitted from Oklahoma FSA https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/Oklahoma/news-releases/2019/stnrok20190524rel001
For those that experienced livestock losses, the Livestock Indemnity Program “LIP” is of particular interest. Flood is designated as an eligible adverse weather event. Producers need to file a notice of loss WITHIN 30 DAYS of when the loss is apparent. They need to call now and get information from their local FSA office. Also, document as much as possible, pictures if they can. The link below is the full fact sheet for the program:
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