With floodwaters across large parts of NSW not expected to recede for several weeks, landholders are being urged to remain vigilant for increased animal disease risks.
Central West Local Land Services Animal Health experts are cautioning livestock exposed to prolonged wet conditions can be susceptible to a range of health issues and diseases, such as lameness, flystrike and worms.
Central West Local Land Services Veterinarian Dr Jillian Kelly said the best way to identify any signs of ill health is to inspect animals at regular intervals.
“Animals that have been standing in water for more than a day or two are susceptible to severe feet issues that will require intervention,” Dr Kelly said.
“Moving stock to dry ground and providing good quality hay is vital.
“Stock that are nutritionally challenged and stressed as a result of the floods, are likely to be more susceptible to a range of diseases,” she said.
The blowfly risk to sheep across most of NSW is considered extreme at the moment, Dr Kelly said with treatment and prevention measures needed to be taken.
“Sheep need to be checked daily for strike.
“Struck sheep need to be removed from the mob, have the area shorn with a 5cm clean margin around the wound, treated with an appropriate flystrike dressing, and if severe, given antibiotics and pain relief.
“There are a range of preventative options, including shearing and crutching which will give 6 weeks fly relief.
“Chemical options include backliners, jetting and plunge dipping and there are a range of chemicals on the market with varying lengths of prevention.
“There are pros and cons of each of these, and producers are advised to talk to their District Vet or livestock advisor about which is best for their situation.
“Barbers Pole Worm also loves these conditions, so an effective drench given now is advised, especially if flood waters mean that your ability to yard sheep regularly is impacted.”
Biting insects are also causing extreme annoyance to livestock at the moment.
“We are seeing stock huddle on bare dry ground, reduce grazing and lose weight. Backline products and insecticidal ear tags for cattle can be used to reduce the burdens, and slashing areas for animals to camp and get away from the insects can help.
“We are yet to see Bovine Ephemeral Fever (BEF, or Three-Day Sickness), a viral disease which can be carried by these insects, however it is thought that this may occur in coming weeks.
“There is a vaccine available to prevent BEF, which is available via private veterinary clinics, however its availability is in short supply at the moment.
“Signs of BEF are stock that have a fever, stand off on their own, don’t graze, drool, are reluctant to move and prefer to lay down. Typically affected animals recover in a few days (hence the name, Three Day Sickness), however some animals (particularly heavy animals such as bulls and cows) can take longer to get up and in some severe cases can die.
“We are also on the look out for Buffalo Fly, a really irritant fly which normally inhabits northern Australia, which made an appearance in the district following the 2010-2011 flood event.
Local Land Services has produced the Caring for livestock in times of flood guide to assist landholders monitor livestock. Download a copy at https://www.lls.nsw.gov.au/help-and-advice/emergency-and-biosecurity/floods/flood-recovery-resources
Landholders impacted by the current flooding event who need urgent advice with evacuation or assistance with emergency care of livestock and companion animals should call Local Land Services on 1300 795 299 to lodge a request for assistance.
Landholders are also being encouraged to report flood-related damage including stock and fodder losses, damage to crops, pastures, fencing and other farm infrastructure through the Natural Disaster Damage Survey.
The Natural Disaster Damage Survey can be filled out online at https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/emergencies/emergency/community/primary-industries-natural-disaster-damage-survey.