Acute Bovine Liver Disease

Acute Bovine Liver Disease By Dr Charlie Blackwood Acute Bovine Liver Disease (ABLD) is a relatively recent condition that we are still learning about. It is currently notifiable as the DPI are trying to collate as much information about this condition as possible. With the relatively mild summer and associated growth, and warmth and moisture around, it is possible ABLD could arise on farms this year. What is it? ABLD was previously known as phytotoxic hepatitis, is a disease of beef and dairy cattle. Outbreaks have been recorded in South Australia, SW Victoria, Tasmania and NSW. The actual cause of the condition is unknown, but it is associated with the presence of the native grass Cynosurus echinatus (Rough Dogs Tail). However, it is unknown whether the plant is directly involved or whether it is merely an “indicator” of some other factor. Cases of ABLD are usually associated with the introduction of cattle onto less fertile paddocks (or parts of paddocks) which have dry feed containing Rough Dogs Tail still standing from the previous spring/summer and with green grass growing underneath. It seems together with the correct weather conditions, this creates the right environment for the disease to develop. Signs of ABLD may be observed within hours of introducing cattle to the affected paddock, or may not develop straight away. Signs of the Disease Signs are variable – but as the name suggests are related to liver disease. Signs seen include: Death of cattle - this may occur suddenly or occur take as few days. Often only a few cows are affected. In the worst cases, 30% or more of...

Perennial Rye Grass Staggers

Perennial Rye Grass Staggers By Dr Erica Schmidt Perennial Rye Grass Staggers (PRGS) is a common condition of cattle, sheep, camelids, and horses in Victoria and New South Wales. It occurs in late summer and autumn and is caused by a fungus found within the rye grass plant. Unlike annual ryegrass toxicity, which is seen in spring and early summer when grasses are long, PRGS is seen when pastures are short and dry, with stock grazing closer to the base of the plant. Signs of PRGS in livestock can also be more subtle, while annual ryegrass toxicity results in severe signs including sudden death. What causes PRGS? Perennial rye grass staggers is caused by toxins produced by the fungus Neotyphodium lolii. N. lolii is an endophytic fungus, living within the cells of perennial ryegrass plants. The fungus does not harm the plant, and in fact has many known benefits including increased resistance to insects and drought. N. lolii is most concentrated at the base of the plant (see illustration), which is why signs are usually seen in livestock only when pastures are short, in late summer and autumn.   How can I identify affected animals? Stock grazed on pastures containing N. lolii may exhibit signs of perennial rye grass staggers within 7-14 days of exposure, with younger animals more severely affected. Identifying affected animals may be tricky, particularly when observing livestock from a distance. However, when the animals are put under physical stress such as herding, clinical signs become obvious. A stiff gait and lack of coordination may progress to tremoring, staggering, and collapse. Signs may also be exacerbated...

Artificial Breeding – New Service Offer

  Artificial Breeding – New Service Offer Warrnambool Veterinary would like to advise all our clients that we now can offer artificial breeding services. Matt Barnes, our Key Account Manager, is an Accredited Artificial Breeding technician with many years and thousands of cows experience, working for Genetics Australia as a DIY training instructor as well as being a senior technician at Timboon Herd Improvement. Matt can offer his services for any fixed time program or general assistance with DIY technicians/farmers that just need someone to help on busy days. Matt will be supported by Dave Cranwell who is also an accomplished technician. So if you are after consistency from a team that care about your herd’s fertility from start to finish, then give the Warrnambool Veterinary Farm Desk a call on 5561 7666 or Matt on 0499 022 114. Your Herd’s Fertility is our...

Watch Out For Worms In Cattle

By Dr Charlie Blackwood Internal parasites or WORMS have been a bigger problem than usual the last few years. Some information about Worms in Cattle. What Worms Do Cows Get The main gut roundworm of cattle is Ostertagia ostertagi, known commonly as the brown stomach worm. Usually control of Ostertagia will also control other roundworms of lesser importance such as the small intestinal worm (Cooperia sp). Cooperia is not killed by all drenches, however. Lung worm are a separate problem. Life Cycle Ostertagia and other roundworms of cattle have a simple direct life cycle. An important feature of this life cycle is that it consists of two stages; the free-living stage on pasture and parasitic stage in cattle. Worm eggs are passed out in dung and moult into second and third stages (L2 and L3). The third stage move onto pasture and can survive for many months depending upon how hot and/or are the dry conditions. The animal eats the larvae and it then burrows into the wall of the fourth stomach, called the abomassum. After moulting to become early fourth stage-larvae (L4), development may continue without delay or be interrupted by a period of up to several months. The lining of the abomasum is significantly damaged when the larvae emerge as immature adult worms. Large numbers of L4 larvae tend to become inhibited in their development if they are ingested during spring and early summer. These can cause a serious type-2 disease when they resume growth and emerge into the abomasum during late summer and early autumn. If the L4 larvae develop directly, that is if they don’t...

Warrnambool Veterinary Dairy Farmer Night

On Wednesday 5 October Warrnambool Veterinary hosted a Dairy farmer night attended by 90 farmers from across the region. The key note speaker for the night Mr Colin Mckenna, Founder and Managing Director of The Midfield Group kept the crowd engaged discussing a range of topics from the current beef market, employment challenges within his business, his view of the future of dairying, succession planning and the milk processing plant in Penola, a joint venture between Midfield and Louis Dreyfus Company. Alison Kennedy, a research fellow with the National Centre for Farmer Health in partnership with Western District Health Service and Deakin University discussed the research project, The Ripple Effect. Alison asked farmers and the community present to speak up about suicide and participate in the project by adding their experiences to the online portal. The research project’s aim is to gather stories about suicide to build an understanding of how suicide impacts on regional communities. The data will help guide contributing organisations and government in developing plans to address the issue and provide proactive resources across regional Victoria. You can find out more about The Ripple Effect, read local stories about the impact of suicide or add your story about suicide to the growing database by visiting www.therippleeffect.com.au. Matt Barnes, southwest Victoria’s Key Account Manager with Apiam Animal Health spoke about the relationship between Apiam and Warrnambool Veterinary and what the role of key account manager entails. Matt presented a selection of the new services available to Warrnambool Veterinary dairy clients. The night was a resounding success with attendees enjoying a drink and a bite to eat in the...

Understanding Bovine Johnes Disease & Changes in Management of BJD in Victoria

By Dr Charlie Blackwood What is Johnes Disease? Bovine Johnes Disease (BJD) is a disease caused by the bacteria Mycoplasma paratuberculosis. BJD is contracted by animals less than 1 year of age. Calves are most susceptible soon after birth, and gradually develop resistance to the disease as they become older. Calves infected with BJD rarely show any signs of disease until they are 4-8 years old, although they may shed bacteria in their poo (which can infect other animals) before this time. Once the bacteria enter the body, they target the cells of the gut to decrease food absorption. As BJD stops your cows from absorbing food, cows with clinical disease will lose weight and have diarrhoea. Some may also have a swelling below their jaw known as ‘bottle jaw’. Why control it? BJD causes decreased production in your herd. An infected dairy cow will produce 8.25% less milk than if they were uninfected and studies indicate that presence of BJD in the average Victorian dairy herd will cost $2370 each year in decreased production. Milk quality is also reduced, and infected cows tend to have milk with lower fat and protein than milk of unaffected cows. Cows with BJD are more likely to get other diseases (e.g. mastitis). These cows will often need veterinary attention, and may be prematurely culled either due to signs of BJD or another disease process. As animals with BJD present with clinical signs similar to a number of other disease processes, money is often spent treating these animals for more common diseases (e.g. drenching for parasites) prior to correct diagnosis. Property values can...