Preventing Disease In Your Cattle Herd

One of the biggest and most important things a farmer has to do is to prevent diseases from occurring within their cattle herd. Diseases can be very detrimental to a farmer as they may lose a great number of their herd or their production output may end up being severely impacted. It is thus important for farmers to be able to prevent diseases as well as spot signs of diseases within their herd. 

The Basics Of Cattle Diseases 

To begin with, cattle diseases are most common when your cattle are kept in too small an area. Cattle are also more susceptible to diseases when they are stressed. Your cattle are most likely to be stressed in certain situations. One, if they are receiving insufficient care. And two, if they are newly-weaned calves that have been transported to you. In the second situation, you can prevent disease in the rest of your herd by quarantining new animals until you are sure that they are completely healthy. 

There are a few categories of diseases, namely: 


These diseases are spread by microorganisms through the air. It can be spread by cattle coughing or sneezing, and from a cattle’s eye or mucous discharge. These diseases largely affect the respiratory systems in cattle. 


These diseases occur within the intestinal tract of cattle. They are caused by parasites that enter the digestional tract of cattle during feeding. 

Dermatological conditions 

These are diseases and conditions that develop on the skin or hooves of your cattle. 


These are diseases that target the neurological systems of cattle. Cattle with such diseases have difficulty controlling their movement and may often stumble or fall. Such conditions are usually caused by bacteria or viruses that are spread to them through insect bites. 

Apart from these few categories, cattle are also vulnerable to other common but serious diseases like anthrax and rabies. They could also suffer from infections of the udder and other reproductive diseases. 

Signs of Disease 

For a farmer, preventing diseases is ideal. However, this is not always possible. Therefore, it is also important for farmers to be able to identify signs of illness quickly. This allows for quick treatment and isolation. By doing that, overall herd health can be protected. A good habit for farmers is to regularly check and inspect your herd. You could conduct this during feeding times as your herd would line up at the feeders and it would be easier for you. 

Here are some signs that you should look out for: 

Problems With Their Eyes 

If your cattle are having eye problems, the signs are pretty obvious. The affected eye would usually be causing them significant discomfort and they often would close one eye and or rub their faces against something rough, like a tree or rock. They may also be extremely sensitive to light and will hence, stay under the shade. If you inspect their eye, you may also see that the eye is cloudy and or weeping with discharge. This may be a sign that they have taken an injury to the eye or it might be a sign of a conjunctivitis infection. If it is a conjunctivitis infection, treatment and isolation must be immediately carried out as it is highly contagious and harmful. If untreated, your cattle may end up with cornea scarring or even blindness. 

Problems With The Hoof 

If a member of your herd having problems with their hoof, it will often avoid usage of the injured hoof. This may mean that it will hobble around or even, avoid movement totally. When inspected, the hoof may look hot, swollen or cracked. There may also be pus or discharge oozing from the hoof. 

Skin Lesions 

Lesions are not uncommon for cattle. It is only a cause for concern if there are multiple lesions spanning across your bull or cow’s back or if they are appearing in circular patterns. These are all signs for ringworm, rain rot or any fungal infection. Such a condition must be treated quickly as it will stress and cause discomfort for your cattle. 

Problems With Respiration 

Due to the airborne nature of such ailments, such ailments are particularly common after auctions or transport. This is because such situations place cattle under great stress and hence, leave them susceptible to falling ill. When they are kept in close quarters, it makes the spread of such ailments extremely easy. Signs of such an illness include coughing, wheezing, sneezing and or mucous discharge. 

Neurological Problems 

A clear sign of such conditions is if your cow or bull stumbles. Or, if it lays down and is unable to get back up later on. If such signs are seen, immediate treatment and care must be given. These conditions are often the results of microorganisms, deficiencies in diet or poisoning. 

Other Suspicious Signs 

Lastly, any major change in your cattle could be a suspicious sign. If your cattle suddenly lose weight or have less of an appetite, you should also pay attention and seek help. Early detection is important for your cattle’s health. 

Preventing Disease: What Should You Do?

Ultimately, complete prevention of diseases is still the best choice for your cattle. This allows your cattle to grow faster and happier and it is also a lot more cost-efficient for you as a farmer. 

Firstly, you should always ensure that your cattle have a balanced diet that is filled with nutrition. They should also have easy access to a constant supply of clean water. These are both essentials for your cattle’s health. Pastures make up a large portion of your cattle’s diet and hence, you should always maintain and ensure that the pasture they are grazing on is high quality. 

Apart from that, you should also ensure that the pasture they graze on is free from rubbish or debris. This is because your cattle will not know any better and might end up eating any rubbish they find. This could cause them to fall deathly sick as these items lodge or block up their intestinal tracts. Alternatively, they may also cut themselves on some of these items and that could lead to infection for them. Therefore, you should regularly walk along your pasture to ensure that there is no rubbish littered on it. 

Lastly, you should keep your animals vaccinated against common diseases, such as anthrax or rabies. The best option for you would be to seek out a local veterinarian to know what vaccinations your cattle should receive. Aside from vaccinations, you should also have regular worming to ensure that they do not end up with parasites. 


As a farmer, your aim is to raise cattle that are healthy and thus, able to draw a profit for you. The best way to ensure all of that is to keep your cattle healthy and disease-free. By following this guide, you would be able to achieve that and raise thriving herds.


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