Signs and Symptoms: What are Your Sheep Trying to Tell You?

Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) Communications Committee
(Previously published online with EAPK: December 30, 2022)

We’ve all experienced a sick sheep, or at least one that doesn’t look quite right, but how do we distinguish a serious illness from one that is mild, or simply normal behavior? While your veterinarian should always be your primary source of medical advice, it’s still important that shepherds have the ability to accurately identify and describe any signs and symptoms your animal may be experiencing. When calling your vet, this information will help him/her determine whether a farm visit is necessary or if a plan of care can be initiated by phone. It will also assist you in researching the problem on your own to identify possible causes. Gathering key information and intervening early can be lifesaving, especially in emergency situations.

It’s important to regularly observe your flock so you’re aware of both normal and abnormal behavior. Some symptoms of disease can mimic normal behavior while others that seem concerning are actually benign. For instance, a healthy lamb often stretches when they get up from a nap which is a good sign. However, a lamb that stretches repeatedly, lies down again quickly and/or seems disinterested or isolates may be experiencing abdominal pain which could be serious. A healthy animal can be observed Continue reading

Are You Ready? All Antibiotics will be Prescription-only in 2023

Dr. Sandy Stuttgen, DVM US-Madison Division of Extension, Taylor County
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: August 4, 2022)

The Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine’s plan for supporting veterinary antimicrobial stewardship will be fully implemented in 2023 when all remaining over-the-counter antibiotics are switched to prescription-only status.

The medically important antibiotics (used by humans and animals) becoming prescription-only include injectable tylosin, injectable and intramammary penicillin, injectable and oral tetracycline, sulfadimethoxine and sulfamethazine, and cephapirin and cephapirin benzathine intramammary tubes. In addition, the OTC status of the swine antibiotics lincomycin and gentamicin is switching to prescription-only.

Vaccines, dewormers, injectable and oral nutritional supplements, ionophores, pro/prebiotics and topical non-antibiotic treatments will not require veterinary prescription.

The Center for Veterinary Medicine evaluates the safety of drugs used in food-producing animals, the impact drug resides have on human intestinal microflora, and the development of human antimicrobial resistance. Drug residues in meat, milk, eggs and honey from treated animals expose bacteria to trace amounts that don’t kill them, but rather allow for the development of antibiotic resistance. Veterinarians are tasked to slow the rate of bacterial resistance by using antibiotics only when necessary to treat, control or prevent disease. Doing so preserves antibiotic efficacy for humans and animals. Continue reading

Q-fever; Its Not a Query Anymore!

Emily Janovyak, DVM, USDA ORISE Fellow

If you keep small ruminants, chances are you’ve heard of Q-fever. But did you know that it can affect many other species, including humans? Q-fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, a bacteria that infects the cells of host animals. It was recognized as a human disease in the mid 1930’s, when the ‘Q’ stood for ‘query’ (question) because cause of this disease was not known. Q-fever is present worldwide. In the United States, cases of human infection must be reported to health authorities whereas animal cases are monitored but reporting of cases is not required.  Surveys indicate a high prevalence of infected animals in the USA but, according to the CDC, only 1-2 hundred cases in humans each year.

Coxiella burnetii can infect many species of mammals, birds, and arthropods. But it is most significantly a problem with ruminants. Animals can transmit the disease by direct contact, either Continue reading

Protecting Your Flock from Disease

Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) Communications Committee – Roxanne Newton
(Previously published online with EAPK: September 11, 2022)

Disease Triangle

Disease is present in every flock and can reside in the animals, soil, air, and water. Producers don’t often talk about illnesses affecting their sheep because they don’t want the stigma of disease to reflect negatively on their flock. But producers shouldn’t have to deal with the problem alone. Let’s accept the fact that disease is inevitable, remove the stigma, and learn how we can prevent or mitigate disease transmission in our flocks.

Disease is defined as “a condition of the living animal that impairs normal functioning and is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms.” Unfortunately, sheep can’t tell us how they feel or what symptoms they’re experiencing so it often becomes a guessing game for both producers and their veterinarians. Since healthy sheep are resistant to many of the pathogens already present on their own farm, they often don’t get clinically ill unless they are under stress. Previous exposure to these pathogens prepares Continue reading

Changes to Livestock Antibiotics Coming in 2023

Dr. Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Franklin County

(Image Source: Drovers)

There are some changes coming to the availability of over the counter antibiotics that the livestock producer will want to familiarize themselves with soon in order to make sure they are properly prepared before the changes are implemented in 2023.

What is being implemented is the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance for industry (GFI) #263 entitled “’Recommendations for Sponsors of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs Approved for Use in Animals to Voluntarily Bring Under Veterinary Oversight All Products That Continue to Be Available as Over-the-Counter.”

The reason for this change to make sure that Continue reading

The Heat is On and the Algae Loves It!

Richard Purdin, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Adams County

(Image Source: Ohio’s Country Journal)

July got off to a hot and dry start for much of Ohio and for livestock managers this brings on added chores on the to do list to keep livestock healthy and productive. Water is the source of life and I often preach on the importance and the critical role it plays in animal health. When livestock have clean fresh water to always drink, they will better consume feed and forage and absorb it nutrients more efficiently. More adequate water consumptions can equate to better rate of gain, increased fertility and reproductive performance, increased milk production and weaning weights, and much more benefits. When water is not available or the tainted in anyway livestock will avoid drinking or try to find water in other areas, this can have a detrimental effect on animal health and should be priority for managers to prevent. There can be multiple factors that lead to water be tainted or unpleasant for livestock consumption but one of the most common factors during the summer is the build up of algae growth in water tanks, troughs, or reservoirs.

Keeping algae out of the livestock drinking facilities can be Continue reading

Iodine Deficiency in Small Ruminants

Lucienne Downs, New South Wales Government District Veterinarian, Central Tablelands Local Land Services
(Previously published online with New South Wales Government Local Land Services)

A severe deficiency of iodine causes a lack of essential thyroid hormone production and the thyroid gland enlarges. The enlarged thyroid gland is called goiter. The swelling occurs in the throat area and can be as large as an orange. Goiter is mainly a disease of lambs and kids, it rarely occurs in calves. Goats have a higher requirement for iodine than other livestock.

Causes of Iodine Deficiency

  • It mostly occurs due to insufficient intake of iodine from the pasture.
  • Iodine deficiency may also be caused by goitrogens – substances within the feed which inhibit the utilization of dietary iodine. Goitrogens have been detected in some legumes and forage crops, but are considered unlikely to be a significant cause of goiter.

Continue reading

Keeping your Vaccines Viable

Tracey Erickson, former South Dakota State University Extension Dairy Field Specialist
(Previously published online with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

Vaccines are a vital part of keeping all livestock healthy. Vaccines help in the prevention of disease, which results in less utilization of antibiotics due to fewer sick animals. Vaccines provide protective immunity approximately 21 days following the initial vaccination in the majority of livestock. Some vaccines may require a booster vaccination(s) to ensure immunity for the period designated by the manufacturer. There are multiple factors influencing immunity, including but not limited to, medical history, vaccine type, method of administration, age, and species being vaccinated. A valid Vet-Client-Patient relationship will help you as you select the vaccine of choice for your livestock health program.

Vaccine Types
You are probably utilizing one of two types of vaccines: inactivated (“killed”) vaccines, which contain bacteria or viruses that have been inactivated by heat or chemicals, or modified-live virus (MLV) vaccines, which contain whole viruses that have been altered in such a way that, while they are able to multiply within the body, their ability to cause disease has been taken away.

So how do vaccines become worthless? Continue reading

How Do Sulfates in Water Affect Livestock Health?

Robin Salverson, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist
(Previously published with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

Water sources that are often assumed to be safe, such as spring fed reservoirs and clear appearing water, can still be high in salts/sulfates. The visual appearance of water should not be used to determine if the water is good or bad. The only way to know if water is suitable for livestock is through testing.

Health Considerations
Poor-quality water will cause an animal to drink less. As a result, they also consume less forage and feed, which leads to weight loss, decreased milk production, and lower fertility.

Sporadic cases of polio can be Continue reading