Why are my cattle coughing? It may not be lungworm

Farmers should not automatically assume that coughing cattle, including cows, have a lungworm problem, according Co. Meath veterinarian Frank O’Sullivan.

“In some instances this can be the case,” he said.

“The problem of lungworm is increasing on the back of the heavier stocking rates now being achieved on Irish farms. But factors such as IBR, RSV and Pasteurella may also be kicking in.

“This is why a differential diagnosis is required. Lungworm can be treated with an appropriate drug. But where virus-related problems are identified vaccination may well be the answer.

“And, of course, prevention is better than cure. Most respiratory problem can be traced back to poor ventilation in sheds. Vets will be happy to provide the appropriate advice on this issue.”

O’Sullivan confirmed that fluke problems are currently giving concern on dairy farms, even in the driest parts of the country.

“We now take dung samples as a matter of routine and have them assessed from a liver fluke perspective. The results of this work will confirm if adult or immature fluke are the root of the problem that has been identified.

“The presence of eggs in the dung would point to flukes being resistant to the flukicides that have been routinely been used on the farm up to that point.”

O’Sullivan said that listeriosis and meningitis cases become more prevalent at this time of the year.

“The source of these problems is poorly fermented silage, which can be found close to the surface of silos or in the vicinity of silo walls.”

“Listeria bacteria can survive the higher pH conditions found in poorly fermented silage.

“Once ingested they can travel to the brain, following which meningitis can set in. The symptoms to look out for are cattle walking in circles. However, the symptoms are treatable,” he said.

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