Producers consider many factors when it comes to the health of their cattle herd or favorite horse, from gashes in their sides to vaccines for foot rot. Cherryvale Veterinary Clinic veterinarian Paul Cotterill, warned producers about many serious diseases in cattle and use-related injuries in horses.
Cotterill was raised in the Cherryvale area and, after graduating from Kansas State University, he moved back home to start his own veterinary practice.
Anaplasmosis, an infectious bloodborne disease spread by natural exposure through insects, is known to cause abortions and death in cattle. With no cure for this deadly disease, management plays a vital role in containment and prevention.
Limited by the Verterinary Feed Directive, cattlemen will need new treatment paths outside of anitbotics. Cotterill said producers can choose to invest in replacement cows, blood transfusions and, the less expensive option, vaccines.
“A change I have found in my own practice is that we weren't using a lot of the anaplas vaccine and now we’re using a significant amount,” Cotterill said.
The Four State area is a hotbed for the disease and — with cattle markets dropping — it would be two years before an open cow is able to get pregnant and make a profit again.
“It comes down to more of how do I prevent that in the first place and if I do have it show up, what do I do,” Cotterill said. “We need to use everything in our arsenal to slow this disease down.”
Letting anaplasmosis go untouched in a cow herd can cause financial devastation. Cotterill said area cattle owners could lose several $1,500 cows within weeks, with more cows the victims of abortions.
“We can’t let the disease fester and get a natural immunity,” Cotterill said.
The vaccine costs $6 to $8 and it only takes one single dose for the animal to be vaccinated.
Another concern for cattle producers is pink-eye — a contagious conjunctivitis — which can cause loss of appetite and fever, with more serious cases leading to temporary or permanent blindness.
“Pink-eye is a really hard disease to make an immunity to,” Cotterill said. “It’s a pretty devastating disease.”
The Cherryvale Veterinary Clinic customizes a pink-eye vaccine from nine strands collected from cows in the area. This way, producers aren’t wasting their money on a vaccine that isn’t targeted to their area. Thirty thousand doses have already been made, allowing them to face this disease head-on.
“We saw a great reduction when we used the strands from around here,” Cotterill said.
In addition to pink-eye, foot rot has also been common. This disease gets bad in any weather extreme. If it’s too dry, cows go into ponds they usually don’t go into, but if it’s too wet, they’re standing in mud. Cattle on grass are especially bad this year with cows that are very lame coming out of herds.
“We put the vaccine in our own herd and I feel like that slowed down our foot rot problems immensely,” Cotterill said.
Many of the injuries horses inflict on themselves happen in new and strange surroundings and, in fair and rodeo season, it’s important to keep working horses happy and healthy.
With new foals now getting big enough to run around, slowly introducing them to new things such as barbed wire fences will prevent them from injury. Without knowing their limits, they are more likely to cause harm to themselves.
Keeping older horses out of unknown situations is key to preventing injuries. Observing the area and exposing them to strange things slowly will help the horses to be more calm.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Cotterill said.
If an injury does occur, it’s best to keep supplies on hand. Since most horse cuts and injuries usually involve the legs, it’s good to keep supplies that keep down the swelling and stop infection such as banamine, bandage material and vet wrap. Having the right medications on hand and keeping your horses up-to-date on tetanus shots will help as well.
In cases with gashes, Cotterill advised horse owners to never cut flaps of skin off, no matter how large they may be. Many of these flaps of skin can be used to cover the wound in a bandage of its own skin or used to close the wound with sutures.
“Clean it up, don’t cut the flaps off, and give us a call,” Cotterill said.
(Sunny Webb is a Labette County High School FFA member and Farm Talk summer intern.)