As a livestock owner, you reap the benefits of a sustainable lifestyle and possibly some income from livestock animals, but you know better than anyone that raising livestock comes with more than its fair share of challenges. As someone that regularly handles livestock, you need to be prepared to manage a wide variety of issues that will affect an animal over the course of its life. Some of the most common problems that livestock here in Wyoming face are diseases, parasites, high-stress levels, nutritional deficiencies, and injuries. As a veterinary clinic, our Cloud Peak Vet staff dedicates about half our time working with large animals, especially bovines and equines, giving us years of experience. We love our community, and we want every member to be aware of any potential problems that many livestock owners face, so let’s explore some of the most common problems that livestock owners face, especially here in Wyoming.
If you have any immediate questions or concerns, please contact our Cloud Peak Vet ASAP! Our number is (307) 347-2781, and we have more information about emergency hours on our website, so do not hesitate to reach out!
The most common issues that our clinic wants you to be aware of are:
- Disease outbreaks
- High stress levels
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Injuries and accidents
Before we get into the specifics of each problem, please take the time to add a local, trusted, top-rated veterinary professional to your arsenal. If you have an emergency, call our Cloud Peak Vet Clinic at (307) 347-2781, and we will help in any way we can.
With the way that the world is moving, you are sure to be hyper-vigilant for signs of disease and potential outbreaks. As ranchers, we know how crucial it is to keep our finger on the pulse of not only our herd’s health but potential threats as well. Our Cloud Peak Clinic is based in Worland, WY, which is in the boundaries of Washakie County, so we will discuss the major diseases that affect our county and region. Let’s begin.
- While you may know it as “shipping fever,” respiratory disease is the most common disease within our Washakie County boundaries. While feeding calves have a smaller risk of contracting the disease, weaning off their mom’s milk may cause stress that will lead to respiratory disease. Here in Wyoming, weaning often occurs during the autumnal months, which could be a problem for brand new calves. The large temperature swings can cause further illnesses, even if your animal is on a well-thought-out vaccination program. To mitigate the amount of stress your animals experiences during and after vaccination, we recommend having the initial vaccine done at branding and again about a month before weaning. Even with this pre-conditioning, you may need to distribute a third booster at weaning.
- Brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can cause damage in reproductive and production systems. Animals like cattle, horses, goats, pigs, and buffalo are common targets for this infection to fester in. Currently, the contamination is mostly restricted to Yellowstone National Park and the designated service area (DSA). If you are around Thermopolis, Powell, and Cody, then you fall into this region.
- When it comes to a cattle-specific disease, bacterial pneumonia is one that we Washakie County residents need to be aware of. This pneumonia is derived from the Bibersteinia trehalosi bacteria that significantly affects our adult cattle. An animal suffering from bacterial pneumonia could face respiratory problems and possibly death.
- Emerging as a very fatal disease that targets ruminants is Johne’s Disease. This bacterial disease is very contagious, so prompt action is necessary to prevent long-term herd issues. Often, Johne’s Disease will cause severe, long-term small intestinal issues. To learn more about this emerging disease, check out this link.
- While rare, Anthrax is still a threat that livestock owners should be aware of while actively preventing an outbreak. The spore that triggers Anthrax poisoning lives in the ground, which means that frequently disturbing the ground, like construction, can trigger the spore to be released. If an outbreak does occur, reach out to a professional ASAP as the outbreaks are highly fatal.
To protect your livestock from disease, it’s important to keep them in a clean and healthy environment. This means providing proper shelter, feeding them a balanced diet, and keeping their living spaces clean. Additionally, we recommend consulting with your Cloud Peak Clinic veterinarian to develop a vaccination schedule for your animals. There are many different pathogens that can affect livestock, and preventing the spread of disease requires careful management practices, so let us know how we can help you take those proactive steps.
While you may imagine only a tapeworm when thinking of “parasites,” there is a wide range of parasitic creatures that can negatively affect your entire herd. Parasites can attack an animal’s internal or external systems, so it is important to monitor for symptoms and signs. With such a varied array of bloodsuckers, the health concerns can be surprisingly diverse, ranging from topic irritations to long-term organ damage. The severity of the parasitic problem is dependent on vaccination history, animal health, what parasite, and whether it is external or internal. Let’s delve into the specifics of both internal and external parasites.
Professional Veterinary Care for Livestock Animals
When someone imagines an “external parasite,” typically the image of a leech latched on a person or a flea-covered dog pops up, but herd animals are just as likely to suffer from one of these visually-repulsive parasites. Often, these freeloaders cause a topical infection that can then spread to the rest of the animal’s system. Often, the worst part of an external parasite is not the bite itself or even the itchiness, but the underlying disease the insect may pass to their host. As long as action is taken quickly, your herd will easily recover from whatever infestation is plaguing their members. The most common external parasites found in livestock are:
- Horn flies
If you are concerned about any parasites on or off this list, let our Cloud Peak team know. With years of experience and hundreds of farm calls under our belts, we have the information, tools, and expertise to maintain your herd’s health and promptly address issues. Let us know how we can help!
Similarly to the ugly parasites we can see, there is a whole world of dangers when it comes to internal parasites. With how complicated animals’ biology is, it can be really difficult to determine what symptoms are caused by a parasite and which by illness. When it comes to livestock, the most common internal parasites found are gastrointestinal worms. Grazing animals in particular are more susceptible to these worms because the parasites thrive in diverse grazing environments. Let’s look at specific grazing animals and the parasite associated.
- Cattle are giants when it comes to grazing, leaving them right in harm’s way. The most common parasites in adult cattle are: Ostertagia ostertagi, Cooperia spp., and Haemonchus contortus. Calves are more vulnerable to coccidia, which can cause severe developmental problems.
- With how big horses are, grazing is a wonderful technique to keep your equine friend happy and full. Unfortunately, horses are very vulnerable to grazing parasites such as, Strongylus vulgaris, Strongylus edentatus, roundworms, and tapeworms. These parasites are known to play a hand in your equine contracting colic.
- Sheep and goats also have a huge target painted on their backs. Like cattle, these smaller ruminants could potentially contract Haemonchus contortus. Unlike their larger counterparts, goats and sheep could contract Teladorsagia circumcincta, and Trichostrongylus spp. When it comes to kids and lambs, coccidia is a much bigger threat than the others.
To avoid parasitic infestation incorporate practices like rotational grazing, lawn care, and regular deworming. It’s important to regularly check your livestock for signs of infestation and treat them promptly, especially under the direction of a trusted veterinarian. To learn more about the specific biology behind both external and internal parasites, we recommend checking out this link, or contacting Cloud Peak Vet Clinic directly.
High Stress Levels
Similarly to humans, livestock animals suffer from a myriad of mental and physical problems when in a high-stress environment for an extended period of time. When animals experience high levels of stress, they can endure the likes of impeded growth, suppressed immunity, behavioral issues, serious injury, reduced reproduction capabilities, and so much more. To avoid these problems that can become long-term chronic issues, our clinic focuses on creating a low-stress handling environment that prioritizes safety and comfort.
Specifically, we encourage all members of our community to follow the thorough advice laid out by Temple Grandin. In a review she wrote titled “Review: Reducing Handling Stress Improved Both Productivity and Welfare,” she expressed that fear is often the main source of cattle’s stress. She goes into great depth about the role that fear plays and how you can avoid it, so we recommend checking out the aforementioned article by clicking this link.
Professional livestock care is essential to farm health and production
With how big livestock animals are, they require a consistently balanced diet to thrive and continue their production levels. When their requirements are not properly met, these animals can suffer from nutritional deficiencies that can lead to a variety of health problems. Often, these deficiencies will include a lack of protein, minerals, or vitamins. To ensure that your animals are getting the nutrition they need, work with a trusted veterinarian or animal nutritionist to develop a tailored diet plan that allows them to meet their specific needs.
Here in Washakie County, copper deficiencies are a pretty common occurrence. Copper is found in the soil, so if a grazing pasture is on soil with limited copper, then your animals will be affected. This specific deficiency can affect reproductive performance and response to vaccine, making copper a crucial mineral in your livestock’s diet. Our clinic has seen an uptick in copper deficiency, so if you have any questions, give us a call!
Injury and Accidents
Livestock can face a variety of injuries and accidents, whether it be a few cuts and scrapes or more serious hoof problems. While the causes can vary, the treatment and prevention is the same: treat the wound and provide a safe environment. It can be tiring, but it is essential that you stay aware of potentially dangerous situations, like a loose fence, electrical issues, sharp objects, and predators. Immediate veterinary intervention is the best way to ensure your animal’s health and wellbeing after an accident.
As we have discussed in great length, owning livestock comes with a wide range of benefits, but animal care can be extremely challenging and complicated. Armed with the knowledge you have now, you know what to be wary of, what signs to look for, and the best method of treatment. This vigilance will benefit your animals because any issues will be addressed quickly, effectively, and with compassion. It is better to be safe than sorry, so if you have any concerns about your livestock’s health, call our veterinarian staff in for a herd wellness check.
You do not have to be alone during any part of the process; our Cloud Peak Vet team is here to support you and your entire herd of animals. If you have any questions or concerns, let us know what we can do to help! We regularly perform services for large animals, so if there is anything your herd needs, we, guaranteed, have more than enough experience to improve your animals’ quality of life. Contact us today!