Skip to content

Cattle owners warned of flood mud scours

Intestines from cow with YersiniosisNorth Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarians have issued a reminder about the importance of monitoring cattle for Yersiniosis or Flood Mud Scours.  With floods in recent weeks in parts of the North Coast and the onset of cool conditions, cattle producers are warned to watch for this condition.

Yersiniosis is a scouring condition usually seen in cattle grazing low lying or poorly drained pastures. It can also be seen on any country when hay around self-feeders is walked into the mud. The condition is commonly seen after flooding (hence the name) and most cases are seen in winter.

Phil Kemsley, North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian said, "This disease often occurs as an outbreak, so it is important to identify the disease early."

He continued, "The bacteria Yersinia likes low temperatures and low oxygen levels typical in poorly drained paddocks and grows in dry grass material contaminated with mud."

On the north coast adults are usually affected, although it is also occasionally seen in yearlings. There is often significant stress on the animals both physiological (lactation, pregnancy) and environmental (wet weather, wind).

Many affected cattle are found dead and confirmation of the condition is by autopsy or samples of scour sent to the laboratory. If seen early, cattle will be depressed, not eating, drooling saliva and have high temperatures (over 40 C). They then develop a watery, smelly scour, tinged with white casts and occasionally blood. Just before death their temperature drops very low (under 37 C).

The alert should be the signs, the sudden onset and the season; there is not the time to wait for culture results before treating. Best results are achieved if treatment is given early using broad-spectrum antibiotics. Supportive therapy such as electrolytes, antidiarrheal preparations and vitamin injections are helpful.

Once the Yersinia is confirmed or suspected move the cattle to a drier paddock. However this may be difficult if there are no dry areas in the risk period.  If you have had a suspect or confirmed case observe your cattle frequently for signs, preferably twice a day. Treat any suspicious cases early with antibiotics.

Phil continued, "Because Yersinia often occurs as an outbreak in an area it's important to tell your neighbours if you have a case.  When feeding round bales, be sure to move the ring to another spot before the next bale, particularly if conditions are muddy."

For more information, contact your North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarians located in Kempsey, Grafton, Casino and Lismore.

Media contact:           Phil Kemsley Phone 0427 896 822

Photo caption:           Changes of the lower bowel with Yersiniosis