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Welcome rainfall may bring increased risk of disease

The recent widespread excellent rainfalls across the North Coast Local Land Services (NCLLS) region have been a blessing for local producers. Widespread falls in excess of 100mm were welcomed by producers currently facing water and feed shortages. But as with most things, there is always the potential for some problems.

NCLLS vets are warning producers of the increased risk of diseases following this rainfall event. Nitrate poisoning is a real possibility as a result of rapid growth following a period of stress especially in winter pastures such as rye and oats. Plants may accumulate nitrates to toxic levels leading to losses through sudden death and abortion. High nitrate levels ultimately lead to an inability of the red blood cells to carrying oxygen – essentially starving the tissues of essential oxygen. Clinical signs include diarrhoea, open mouth breathing, staggering gait, although often animals are just found dead. Surviving animals may abort.

Another potential risk following recent rains is bloat. Bloat is a possibility on paddocks with a high clover content. With conditions still a little cool for much growth from our tropical pasture species it is possible that we may see a predominance of clover, with little grass.

Enterotoxaemia, or pulpy kidney, may also be a risk when stock are grazing short green, rapidly growing pasture. Ensuring cattle are up to date with '5-in-1' or '7-in-1' vaccination is recommended.

The risk of these diseases is higher when hungry stock are introduced to risky pasture. Ensuring cattle have some gut fill prior to introduction by feeding hay will help. Limiting time spent grazing risky pastures and monitoring stock following introduction are also important.

For more information contact your Local Land Services District Vet on 1300 795 299.

Media contact: Mr Ian Poe, Team Leader, Animal Biosecurity and Welfare (0429 987 255).