Rabies in Livestock

Timothy McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

Many diseases can affect animals on pasture. The most difficult ones to stay aware of are the diseases that are uncommon, where the producer or livestock may never encounter the disease. Many diseases that affect livestock have presentation forms that can mimic multiple other diseases that are more common, leading to a delay in veterinary care or producer awareness. One disease that can affect livestock that fits this description, but should stay firmly in a producer’s awareness is rabies.

Rabies is an ancient disease caused by a virus. The Latin translation of rabies means, “To rave or rage”. The virus spreads in its host in an unusual way compared to how most people think of viral spread. While many viruses spread through the bloodstream, enter via the respiratory tract or digestive tract by ingestion, rabies is a neurotropic virus, meaning it spread along the nerves in the nervous system. After an infected host bites an animal or human, the virus enters the wound via the contaminated saliva and starts to move along the nervous system towards the brain. Contact with infected saliva or tissue can transmit the disease in the absence of a bite if the skin is broken. Rabies has also been transmitted through tissue transplants of infected donor tissue in one documented case.

Animal species most commonly affected by rabies in Ohio include bats, raccoons, skunks, cats, dogs, horses and cattle, with the largest number of positive test results occurring in bats. Many other mammal species can contract rabies if exposed including fox, coyote, opossum, chipmunks and deer. The virus that causes rabies does not live long outside the host. It has persisted in the environment for thousands of years by living from animal to animal through transmission.

Grazing animals are naturally curious, often investigating a small mammal acting oddly in the pasture, instead of avoiding it as they would a predator or larger mammal such as a human. This behavior puts them at risk of a bite from a rabid animal such as a bat, skunk or raccoon. Common bite sites include the nose or legs. Once bitten there is an incubation period that can be extremely variable, lasting as short of a week but as long as months. Clinical signs usually start within a 3 week to 3-month period, depending on the location of the bite or viral entrance site.

While the commonly known presentation of rabies is the furious form secondary to central nervous system excitement, the list of potential clinical signs is vast. These signs include incoordination, difficulty swallowing, profuse salivation, restlessness, agitation, and partial or full paralysis. These signs can easily be mistaken for other more common problems such as choke, colic, nutritional disease, toxicity, or trauma. Rabies progresses to death in a species showing clinical signs.

Since 2010, the Ohio Department of Agriculture has confirmed cases of rabies in bats, raccoons, skunks, dogs, cats and cattle in Ohio. What should a producer do to prevent exposure to this disease? First, when walking pasture or working animals around the barn, if a producer encounters an animal such as a raccoon or skunk, that is acting oddly, especially in daylight, avoid the animal at all costs. Exercise caution if the animal appears dead in case the animal is affected by the virus and paralyzed. Next, the producer should familiarize themselves with the signs of disease listed previously in this article. Contact a veterinarian immediately if rabies is suspected. Vaccines are available for most livestock and companion animal species. Vaccinate dogs and cats on the farm for rabies in every case and keep records of vaccine dates. Work with your veterinarian to develop a livestock vaccination protocol. Keep rabies on the list of diseases that while not common, can have devastating consequences if encountered.

Safety First For An Illuminated Holiday

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator


November 20, 2018


Deck the halls with strands of lights, let your holidays be merry and bright! Now that we have enjoyed Thanksgiving, thousands of individuals in the United States will begin to decorate their homes for the holidays in December. Holiday decorations can brighten the bleak December landscape, but safety precautions should be taken into consideration so you can avoid a holiday disaster.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) 86 percent of Americans decorate their homes for a winter holiday1. The National Fire Protection Association estimated fire departments in the United States responded to 840 home structure fires that began with holiday decorations, and an additional 200 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees annually. In fact, 19 percent of decoration-related fires occur in December, and 24 percent of decoration-related fires in December occur in the living or family room3.

While holiday decorations can be dangerous, following several simple safety guidelines can help you prevent fires and electrical safety issues. Safety guidelines for holiday lighting include:

  1. Use outlets that are protected with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs)
  2. Extension cords should be rated for the intended use (indoor or outdoor) and should not be run through doorways or windows
  3. In order to avoid blowing fuses, you should not connect more than three strands of lights together
  4. Avoid power lines when decorating outdoors
  5. Light strands should be used in accordance with their rating for indoor or outdoor use
  6. Attach lights in a manner that does not impact the protective coatings on the wire
  7. Check strands of lights for broken bulbs, exposed wire, or other defects to the strands
  8. Do not use light strands for weight bearing or for hanging ornaments
  9. Make sure to store light strands neatly after use to avoid tangling
  10. Avoid hanging lights in or around standing water or areas of high moisture
  11. Use ladder safety techniques to avoid falls when hanging lights
  12. Keep all fresh-cut trees and greenery watered to prevent them from drying out

While you are making your holiday decorations and checking them twice, think about your energy use and how you could become more efficient in your power consumption this holiday season. According to the Dayton Power and Light Company (DP&L), light emitting diode (LED) lights use 70 percent less energy in comparison to incandescent lights, and LEDs last longer as well. “LEDs stay cool to the touch” which reduces the risk of fires and the bulbs are more resistant to breakage because they are made from epoxy instead of glass, according to DP&L2. They also estimate that the cost of lighting a six-foot Christmas tree for 12 hours a day, for 40 days, to be $0.27 with LED C-9 lights or $10 with incandescent C-9 lights. Even using mini-lights the LED lights use less electricity, with LEDs costing $0.82 versus incandescent costing $2.74 for the same time period of usage.

Another way to become more efficient is to use timers so your lights are on only when you want them to be on. By limiting the amount of time your decorations are illuminated will save you additional money in energy costs. Inexpensive, manual timers or more advanced app-controlled outlet timers are available for both indoor and outdoor use. App-controlled timers can also assist with turning lights on or off when you are away celebrating the holidays with family and friends.

In conclusion, holiday lighting can pose a safety danger when safety guidelines are disregarded. Incorporating the safety tips mentioned above to ensure the proper use and function of holiday decorations can prevent your holiday season from becoming bah humbug this year. Spread good cheer throughout the neighborhood by incorporating safety tips mentioned above and by using creativity in your decorations this holiday season.  For more information on lighting safety or energy efficiency, contact the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.



  1. Electrical Safety Foundation International. (2015). ESFI 2013 Holiday Survey. Retrieved from https://www.esfi.org/resource/esfi-2013-holiday-survey-343
  2. Dayton Power and Light Company. (2018). Enjoy the season and stay safe. Retrieved fromhttps://www.dpandl.com/education/safety-tips/holiday-safety/
  3. National Fire Protection Association. (2017). Home Christmas Tree Fires. Fact Sheet. Retrieved from: https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Fact-sheets/ChristmasTreeFactSheet.ashx?la=en


Upcoming Events:

 The next Highland County Monthly Extension Program will be held on December 10, 2018, at 10:00 A.M. at the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Hillsboro, Ohio. Gary Ludwig from the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services will be speaking on managing Black Vulture Predation.  Please RSVP and plan to attend.


A fifth Beef Quality Assurance Training will be held at Union Stockyards on Tuesday, January 22, 2018, at 6:30 P.M. Please RSVP to the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.


Fertilizer and Pesticide Recertifications: 

February 19, 2019

Ponderosa Banquet Center, 545 S. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Fertilizer Recertification – Private and Commercial

6:30 pm Pesticide Recertification (Core, 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6) Private Applicators Only


March 4, 2018

Ponderosa Banquet Center, 545 S. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133

10:00 am to 11:00 am Fertilizer Recertification – Private and Commercial

11:30 am Pesticide Recertification (Core, 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6) Private Applicators Only

Registration details will come in the mail from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Registration for OSU Extension Pesticide and Fertilizer and your renewal application for ODA Pesticide/Fertilizer must both be completed. Meals will be included at each recertification training at Ponderosa.


Messy is Better

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer


A recent Audubon newsletter challenges gardeners to think outside the “tidy” box, saying,” a manicured lawn might look nice, but messy is better for birds and bugs.”

I have tried to limit how much I cut down in the fall. I leave all my ornamental and native grasses standing until spring, I only dead-head a portion of my coneflowers and black-eyed susans, and all the mountain mint stays until spring. I believe in being somewhat “tidy” but like to leave some seeds for the birds and bugs.

There is a certain satisfaction in autumn chores. Putting away the tomato cages, storing the planters, cleaning the potting shed, all seem like a rite of the season.

Tod Winston, Audubon’s Plants for Birds program, says, “If you want to make your backyard a welcoming winter haven for birds, some fall tasks call for a laissez-faire approach. Messy is definitely good to provide food and shelter for birds during the cold winter months.”

Other good autumn practices include:

Saving the Seeds. The seed heads of coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, and other native wildflowers provide a helpful food cache for birds. Grasses, like bluestems or gramas, also make for good foraging after they go to seed. And letting other dead plants stick around can fill your property with protein-packed bird snacks in the form of insect larvae, such as the fly and wasp larvae.

Leave the leaves. You can help birds and other wildlife-and save yourself some backache and blisters – by skipping the leaf raking. Winston says, “Those leaves are important because they rot and enrich the soil, and also provide places for bugs and birds to forage for food.”

If a fully hands-off approach doesn’t work for your yard, consider composting some leaves and letting the rest be. You could also rake them from the lawn to your garden beds or mulch them with a mower to nourish your lawn

Build a brush pile. Along with shaking loose showers of leaves, blustery fall days also tend to knock down tree limbs. Rather than hauling them away, you can use fallen branches to build a brush pile that will shelter birds from lousy weather and predators. You’ll find that the pile settles and decomposes over the seasons ahead, making room for next year’s additions.

Hit the nursery. When it comes to creating a bird-friendly backyard, it’s worth putting in some hard work planting native shrubs and trees. Cooler temperatures also make fall a more comfortable time to tear out some turf grass and expand your native plant garden. Native dogwoods, hawthorns, sumacs, and other flowering shrubs produce small fruits that not only feed birds during the colder months but can also provide a welcome pop of color when winter gets drab. Planted in the right place, evergreens give birds a cozy shelter. Fall is also a great time to get a substantial discount.

Have I given you something to think about? Is there a part of your landscape that you could leave a bit “messy” and help the birds and bugs? You have the whole winter to think about it!

New and Small Farm College Registration Open

The 2019 New and Small Farm College program will be offered in three Ohio locations. Each location will host an entire eight-week program focusing on topics to get the most out of your few acres. The program begins at 6 p.m. with a light dinner followed by the program at 6:30 p.m. The program concludes at 9 p.m. Click on a location below for more details and registration information:

Montgomery County – Englewood, Ohio
Classes will be Jan. 8 – Feb. 26, 2019
Enrollment deadline is Jan. 2

Vinton County – McArthur, Ohio
Classes will be Jan. 15 – March 5, 2019
Enrollment deadline is Jan. 8

Adams County – Seaman, Ohio
Classes will be Jan. 16 – March 6, 2019
Enrollment deadline is Jan. 8

The New and Small Farm College is an eight-week program that introduces new and seasoned farmers to a wide variety of topics. Typically beginning in January, the program teaches participants how to set goals, plan, budget, and where to find resources if they choose to start a small farming operation. The course will lay out how to manage financial and farm records.

Extension Educators will illustrate many different enterprises that can be profitable on land as small as one acre. The educators will show the benefits and pitfalls of each enterprise so that the participant will be able to pick and choose what may work best for them and what suits their interest. To round out the experience, a tour will be held around area farms so that participants can see first-hand how small farm life works, and also make contacts of practicing farmers in the area.

Topics covered in the program include:

  • Getting started in the planning process
  • Sources of assistance
  • Agricultural legal issues
  • Insurance considerations for the farm
  • Inventory of natural resources
  • Financial and production record keeping
  • Crops and horticulture production
  • Animal production
  • Marketing

Sample Course Outline

Class Dates: Thursdays (day varies by location)
• January – March

Class Times:
• Light dinner at 6:00 pm
• Classes are from 6:30 – 9:00 pm

• Price includes one 3-inch binder of resource materials, meals and dessert each night, and 1 soil sample evaluation
• Additional family member discount available (does not include a notebook).

Sign up for the Small Farms Email list and Subscribe to the “Go Farm Ohio” Blog, Facebook and Twitter to receive notices about the Small Farm Team’s opportunities. This list is only used by the OSU Extension Small Farms Team to send relevant information to its stakeholders.

Upcoming Highland County Master Gardener Volunteers Meeting

The Highland County Master Gardener Volunteers will be meeting on November 28, 2018, at 2:30 p.m. in the small meeting room in the basement of 119 Governor Foraker Place, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133. At the meeting, we will be discussing the future of the Highland County Master Gardener Volunteers program and how to track hours.

If you are unable to attend, please contact Brooke Beam at 937-393-1918 to discuss your involvement in the program.