Choose the appropriate disease and disorder prevention management practice, corrective treatment or a combination

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Guidelines for choosing the appropriate disease management practice

All the procedures in this module rely on knowing the health problems that are potential risks to your beef enterprise.

Know the common cattle diseases in your locality.

Consider whether any of the more common diseases or nutritional disorders are likely to occur in your beef enterprise by assessing:

  • grazing and husbandry practices
  • age groups and classes of cattle
  • disease status of introduced cattle
  • the locality of your enterprise.

Tool 6.01 provides a list of common production and reproductive diseases and conditions for their likely occurrence. These diseases of cattle can lead to significant economic loss when left untreated or treatment is delayed.

Diseases that affect cattle may be caused by:

  • infections from bacteria, viruses or fungi
  • plant poisonings
  • nutritional deficiencies, excesses or imbalances
  • metabolic disorders.

Pathogenic or viral infections include:

  • calf scours (neonatal calf diarrhoea)
  • pinkeye
  • botulism

Plant poisonings/allergies

  • Pimelea poisoning (Marree or St. George disease or rice flower poisoning)
  • Other plant poisonings that can occur when conditions suit the growth of the particular toxic plant or when livestock are hungry (such as cattle entering a weedy yard that has not been used for a while).

Nutritional diseases discussed in this procedure include:

  • bloat
  • phosphorus deficiency
  • ketosis (pregnancy toxaemia)
  • hypocalcaemia (milk fever).

Important reproductive diseases include:

  • vibriosis
  • leptospirosis
  • mucosal disease - bovine pestivirus; bovine viral diarrhoea virus (BVDV).

Consult with neighbours, producers with similar production systems, local veterinary practitioners, state departments of primary industries and agriculture to assist with a thorough assessment of the disease status of your herd.

Use local and veterinary advice to develop a disease management plan.

Check that your herd is free of diseases by using Tool 6.02, an aid to diagnosing a number of common cattle diseases. Misdiagnosing a disease may result in substantial losses so consult with a veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis.

Disease prevention is more effective and less costly than treatment. Vaccinate against specific diseases if it is cost-effective or there is a human health risk

Once the risk from any particular animal health issue has been identified, decide whether to:

  • take immediate action and develop a preventive management program, or
  • monitor the herd when disease symptoms are likely to occur in the production cycle, and act only when diseases appear.

What to measure and when

Individual diseases have different requirements for what to measure and when. Refer to the Toolkit at the end of this module for more information on the following measurement aids:

  • indicators of the conditions likely to lead to the development of common diseases of cattle (Tool 6.01)
  • diagnostic tools to detect the presence of common diseases (Tool 6.02)
  • an understanding of the likely impact of a disease and how severe it needs to become to affect production
  • market information on commodity prices to calculate cost–benefit budgets.

Further information

  • Information on common diseases and disorders may be available on state department of primary industries and agriculture websites (see Tool 6.13).