How would you feel if you went to check your cattle and found about half of them dead in the paddock?
Over Easter weekend, a cattle producer in the high country suddenly lost half of a mob of his cattle! He had put them in a new paddock after weaning their calves and drenching them, only to find 20 of the 40 cows dead three days later. The remaining cows were not well either - they were agitated, standing in water, reluctant to eat, shaking their heads a lot and very dull.
A fast onset of a disease, affecting the whole herd, is highly suggestive of some sort of a toxin. The producer did all the right things for the remaining cattle - he moved them to a different paddock and rolled out some hay. He applied some Causmag in case there was a grass tetany issue.
We were unable to get up to see him straight away, so we contacted the government vets who were able to go to the property to investigate what was going on. His cattle were behaving as if they had Acute Bovine Liver Disease. This is a disease that is seen occasionally in our area and is due to an unknown toxin damaging the liver. Surviving cattle often go on to develop photosensitisation.
While the toxin itself has not been identified in outbreaks, there are certain weather patterns that make some years higher risk than others. The high risk time for the toxin to be present is during the autumn.
Good care, anti inflammatories and anti-histamines all help, but the toxin can strike quick, fast, and hard.
We have since seen 2 other properties with animals suspected of being affected by the same condition, one in the Orbost area, one in Buchan.
We hope this is the end of the outbreak!