Wet paddocks can cause significant health issues for farm animals. ​

Farmers affected by recent floods and storms are being encouraged to monitor the health of their stock as wet conditions continue to affect parts of Victoria.

Floods and sustained wet paddocks can bring a range of animal health problems, from food shortage and plant toxicity to dehydration, infection and disease.

Agriculture Victoria veterinary officer Jeff Cave said pasture and crops damaged by flooding might leave farmers needing to find alternative feed for stock over the coming months.

“In particular, mould growth on water-damaged feed reduces the nutritive value and palatability of both standing and stored feed, with some mould toxicity causing death or longer-term health problems such as liver damage,” Dr Cave said.

“Surprisingly, dehydration can also be a problem with stock often refusing to drink flood water if it is polluted or tastes different from their normal supply.

“Farmers and producers in flood-affected areas should watch their stock carefully to ensure they are drinking adequately and monitor them for any signs of illness and infection.”

Lameness is another concern with all stock breeds susceptible after long periods of immersion in water or standing on wet, muddy ground. Abscesses and other foot problems will be common where an animal’s feet are constantly wet.

Other health threats include pneumonia and diarrhoea, mastitis and bloat, as well as an increased threat of bacteria and worm larvae.

Establishing a stock containment area with adequate shelter, feed and water supply will be beneficial to maintaining the heath of stock.

If stock is experiencing health issues seek professional help, either from a private veterinarian, or an Agriculture Victoria animal health officer or district veterinary officer.

Farmers with animal health concerns in the wake of the floods can contact the Agriculture Victoria recovery team on 0427 694 185 or email recovery@agriculture.vic.gov.au.

For information and resources relating to managing livestock in wet conditions or to contact Agriculture Victoria, visit agriculture.vic.gov.au/farm-management/emergency-management.

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