Cattle Management and Disease Prevention

Bloat (tympany)

Bloat occurs when too much gas is produced in the rumen.
The left flank becomes distended and breathing becomes difficult.
This may happen suddenly, especially when the animal is grazing on wet pasture in the morning. It may cause sudden death.

The animals continually belch, once each minute, to get rid of the gas. Occasionally belching stops and gas builds up in the rumen to cause bloat. As the gas builds up the left flank balloons out. The pain from this causes the animal to try to kick its belly or it stands with its back legs wide apart. It has difficulty in breathing. The animal may be in distress for several hours but in bad cases of bloat the animal will be found lying on its side and death can occur in a few hours.

Causes of bloat

Bloat can occur when the animal grazes on lush young pasture, particularly if the pasture is wet. Some plants, e.g. clover, lucerne and alfalfa are especially dangerous in causing bloat but any fast growing plants can cause it. Sometimes ruminants kept by the household and fed only feed such as dry bread can develop bloat.

Treatment for Bloat

Making the animal belch is one way of treating bloat. You can do this by:

Massaging the distended rumen through the abdominal wall.

Tying a stick in the mouth, crosswise like a horse’s bit.

Tickling the throat.

Make the animal walk around for about half an hour.

Determining Age of Cattle

(1) Under two years old (No permanent teeth)
(2) Two years three months (2 permanent teeth)
(3) Three years old (4 permanent teeth)
(4) Three years six months (6 permanent teeth)
(5) Four years (8 permanent teeth)
(6) Old animal, over four years old.

Determining Age of Buffalo

(1) Under three years old (no permanent teeth)
(2) Two years six months (2 permanent teeth)
(3) Three years six months (4 permanent teeth)
(4) Four years six months (6 permanent teeth)
(5) Five to six years (8 permanent teeth)
(6) Old animal

Foot (hoof) Care

There is an old saying “No foot, no animal”. This is true as untrimmed feet lead to bad legs and the animal cannot graze properly and will lose condition. The feet should be regularly examined and trimmed. Remember to make any cuts in a direction away from your body or the hand holding the foot.

Overgrown feet

The hoof is like your fingernail and grows continuously. Walking wears the hoof down but sometimes the hoof grows very quickly and becomes overgrown. In some places where the ground is too wet the foot can get infected and it becomes smelly and painful. This condition is called foot rot and the animal can become lame. When animals have infected or overgrown feet they cannot walk and graze properly.

Castration of ruminants
Castration is the destruction or removal of the testicles of the male. It is carried out on animals which are not wanted for breeding. Castrated animals are quiet (do not fight). Some countries insist on all imported animals being castrated.

Traditionally farmers or animal raisers do not castrate animals and both males and females are allowed to mix together. The result is that poor males are allowed to mate with the females and the young stock produced are not very good. Uncastrated males also fight so it is better to castrate the animals which are not the best for breeding. The best time to castrate animals is when they are very young (a few days old). If castration is carried out then, the operation is easier and more successful and the wound heals (gets better) very quickly.

Cattle Plague (rinderpest) and Foot and Mouth Disease

Ruminants, especially young animals, can suffer from a variety of diseases. Rinderpest (cattle plague) is highly infectious and can kill cattle and buffalo. Foot and mouth disease is very common in many countries. It affects cattle, sheep, buffalo and goats. These two diseases are very important. Rinderpest occurs in Asia, the Middle East and Africa while foot and mouth disease occurs all over the world except in Australia, New Zealand, North America and now Western Europe.

Cattle Plague (Rinderpest)

The signs of rinderpest infection in cattle and buffalo are:

First stage is a high fever (40.5°C to 41.5°C).

Red patches appear on the vagina or scrotum followed by patches on the lips, nostrils and around the eyes.

In buffalo the first sign of the disease is a discharge from the eye.

The patches develop pus (yellowish matter) in them.

Frothy saliva comes from the mouth.

The animal suffers from constipation (can not pass dung) followed by diarrhoea. The important sign is the bad smell of the dung.

After a few days the animal dies

Rinderpest is a highly infectious disease and can kill many animals especially cattle and buffalo. The disease is mainly spread through the drinking water which has been infected by the dung of sick animals but it can also spread by direct contact and in the breath. The disease affects wild animals and pigs. Deaths of wild pigs can be a sign that rinderpest is present in the area.

Foot and mouth disease

The signs of infection with foot and mouth disease are:

First stage is a high temperature.

Small blisters (bags of skin filled with fluid) appear in the mouth and on the tongue, between the claws, around the hoof and on the teats.

The blister will break and the skin over it is lost to give reddish patches.

Saliva will be produced but the animal has difficulty in eating.

The hoof may come off and the animal will be lame.

There are a few diseases which have similar signs to foot and mouth disease.