The period after turn out always sees an increase in diagnoses of lead poisoning. If there is an old battery sitting in the corner of a field then inquisitive young cattle will find it. Bonfire sites, where a battery has been placed on the fire, are also high risk. Sudden deaths, blindness and neurological signs such as fitting can be seen. It pays to have a careful check of all fields, whether you have previously grazed cattle there or not, to avoid unnecessary deaths.
Blackleg is a cause of sudden death. Affected animals are occasionally seen to be lame before death. Blackleg is caused by a clostridial bacteria that is found in the soil. Any evidence of soil disturbance e.g. drainage work or molehills could increase the risk of infection. The bacteria lie dormant in muscle until a trigger such as increased exercise or damage reduces the amount of oxygen present. This allows the bacteria to multiply and produce the lethal toxins. Blackleg is most commonly diagnosed in youngstock at grass and multiple animals can die in a short space of time. Cheap, effective vaccines are available to prevent Blackleg and other clostridial disease such as pulpy kidney.
Heather Stevenson, email@example.com
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