Thursday, 17 February 2011 12:02

Summer rain can herald problems for livestock

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THE VICTORIAN Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is advising livestock producers that while the recent rain could provide valuable green feed, they need to keep close watch on their stock to avoid possible health problems.

DPI district veterinary officer Dr Jeff Cave says livestock can be affected by the humid conditions and an increase in toxic weeds, mould and fungi, and parasites.

“While the summer rain can help produce grass which is beneficial, there are other aspects of the unseasonable weather that producers need to be aware of,” Cave says.

“As well as the beneficial grasses there are also a lot of weeds that come up with summer rain that can be toxic to livestock.”

Heliotrope is one of the toxic weeds that grow with summer rains.

And with the rain a lot of the dry standing feed will have lost quality.

There is also the potential for moulds and fungus to grow in the dry standing feed. Diseases due to toxic fungi include facial eczema and ergot poisoning.

“There is also the increased chance of internal parasites and typically you would see more barbers pole worms with summer rain,” Cave says.

“Producers need to keep in mind that normal worm control programs are less effective when there is summer rain.

“The best way to be sure your worm control program is working is to have faecal egg counts done.”

Cave says farmers should contact their local veterinarian if they have any concerns.

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