Weather takes costly toll on animal health – Vets report big increase in pneumonia, mastitis and milk fever

Vets are encountering a big increase in animal health problems on farms with a rise in mastitis, milk fever, viral pneumonia and joint-ill being reported.
The poor weather conditions are piling pressures on farmers and animals with delayed turnout having a major impact on health issues.
Macroom vet Pat Bourke said there were definitely more casualties on the farm due to cows being kept indoors due to sodden pastures and lack of grass growth.
“There are a number of problems from increased mastitis due to longer housing and a big increase in injuries from slips and falls. We are also encountering a lot of scour in calves, especially suckler calves as they can’t put them out. Delayed turnout is having a big impact,” he said.
Mr Bourke from Coolcower Veterinary Clinic said they had also found more pneumonia in calves this year as farmers were overstocked as they were unable to bring them to sales due to the snow. “That has relieved a bit,” he said.
However, he also warned it would have a knock-on effect on fertility this year due to body condition score being impacted by the lack of grass.
He pointed out sheep farmers were also suffering bigger losses with lambs suffering from hypothermia. In addition there have been increased cases of joint-ill and a number of lambs lost due to ewes accidentally lying on them due to be housed for longer than usual.
Nenagh vet Eamon O’Connell said there were increased incidents of milk fever in cows as the mineral quality of silage was poor this year and lacking in the required levels of magnesium.
“Also, we’ve found colostrum quality on some farmers has been poor – linked to lack of good quality silage and poor BCS. This has had the knock on effect of more sick calves,” said the vet from Summerhill Veterinary Clinic in Co Tipperary.
Mr O’Connell also pointed out they have been called out to a lot of cases of mastitis and also displaced stomachs which are linked to being indoors and feed-related.
“A lack of cubicle space is contributing to mastitis,” he said. “A lot of guys would have budgeted on getting cows out by early February so they are under pressure for space.
“If cows were out at this stage on proper grass day and night we’d see a lot less of production diseases.
“There are also more injuries from cows bulling on slats that should be out. They are out by day in a lot of places but a lot of it is an exercise purpose as opposed to feed value.
“We are not too far away from the breeding season and it is getting worrying on BCS.”
Met Éireann is forecasting that another band of showers will move up from the south early today.
However, afternoon temperatures will generally range nearer to normal at 10°C to 12°C. The rain will continue later in the week with daytime temperatures from 7°C to 13°C.