Stop the cattle deaths: what to do.

Today, I want to talk about what I may term “adaptive animal health management”. By this I mean managing the health of your animals in the face of a known specific disease threat.

Tick-borne diseases:- Its incredible how many animals are dying in Zimbabwe from tick-borne diseases. One publication said Zimbabwe is losing 120 animals per week from January Disease.

What do we know? We know there are a number of tick borne diseases and toxicoses, but the major ones are 4: January Disease; Red Water; Gall Sickness; Heart Water.

In general, animals develop active antibodies when exposed to tick-borne diseases. But the immunity does not last: there is need for constant low-level exposure to maintain the immunity.

So what does this mean? It means that we want our animals to be exposed to ticks, but not in overwhelming numbers. We want the body’s immune system to be challenged, but not overwhelmed.

So what do we do? 3 things:

  1. Control ticks:- Dip your animals regularly. The long-standing recommended regime is once per week in summer/rain season and once in two weeks in winter. However, this is only a good guide. Dip as frequently as the tick challenge determines. For example, it is a regulation in Zimbabwe that when January Disease occurs at a farm, as part of efforts to control it, the farmer needs to adopt close-interval dipping known as the 5-5-4 dipping cycle. Dip day 1, repeat after 5 days, repeat after 5 days, then repeat after 4 days. Repeat the whole cycle for 6 weeks or so. This is done in order to disrupt the life cycle of the tick that transmits the disease. At the same time, use tick grease to hand-dress inside the ears and tip of tail, and other areas of the body not easily accessible when spraying.
  2. Treatment:-Tick borne diseases are treatable/curable. All of them. For the record:
  • January Disease:- Purvaquone/Buparvaquone (Butalex etc)
  • Red Water:-Diminazene (e.g. Berenil etc); Imidocarb (e.g. Imizol)
  • Gall Sicknes:-Oxytetracyclines (e.g. Teramycin etc); Imidocrb (e.g. Imizol)
  • Heart Water:- Oxytetracyclines (e.g Teramycin etc)

3. Prophylaxis:- This means giving an animal the full curative dose when they are not sick but are at risk to a known disease. An example is when humans take anti-malaria drugs when visiting malaria-prone areas.

When do you give prophylaxis?:-In a number of circumstances:

  • When moving animals to new area:-I would advise that any animals moving to a new area needs prophylactic treatment against the major tick borne diseases occurring in that area.
  • When buying in from outside your herd: -new animals coming in from elsewhere must be treated as at risk to local diseases in the area. And more importantly they also bring in new diseases.

Which drugs are used for prophylaxis? Use the drugs used for treatment, and give the FULL dose, just as you do when treating sick animals.

Anything to add? Yes. Information does not give you the money, but it guides you how to save your assets and deploy your resources!

Happy farming. This is a fairly technical area, and I certainly am not trying to make you all vets. Consult your vets, but its good to have a cupboard well-stocked with right chemicals. Plus having the right level of knowledge saves you unnecessary cost and expenditure.

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