Wire in gut one of the main causes of suckler cow deaths in the UK

Post-mortem results for in the UK shows that wire in the gut is one of the main causes of suckler cow deaths.

The Eblex study also showed that the cause of death in the majority of calf deaths was inconclusive.

E.coli infections and both viral and bacterial pneumonia are the next top causes of deaths in calves, it says.

In growing cattle, bacterial pneumonia is the top cause of death in beef herds, it found, while the number one cause of death in the suckler cow herd is clostridial disease followed by Johne’s Disease in suckler cow herds.

Many causes of death in beef calves, growing cattle and suckler cows are preventable, it says.

For example, diseases such as pneumonia, which is common in calves and growing cattle, and clostridial diseases, mostly seen in growing cattle at grass, can be vaccinated against.

Wire in the gut of suckler cows and post-caesarean complications in cows were also in the top 10 causes of suckler cow deaths, Eblex says.

Parasites such as liver fluke and lungworm are also common causes of death and can easily be controlled.

A comprehensive health plan that includes prophylactic treatments and vaccinations can prevent death and poor growth in animals, it says.

Eblex says that other aspects of husbandry, such as ensuring good hygiene is practised and calves have optimum colostrum intake, can also be addressed to help prevent fatalities within the herd caused by diseases such as E.coli and navel ill.

The study was conducted over the space of a year by Eblex to investigate whether offering a post mortem service at a Fallen Stock Collection Centre (who remove fallen animals from farms).

Eblex also worked with Ben Strugnell of Farm Mortem Ltd and John Warren (ABP) Ltd in Co. Durham on the project.

The amount of data on disease levels in beef cattle and sheep is currently very low and needs significant improvement, it found.

Over the year, more than 200 calves (up to six months), nearly 100 growing and finishing cattle and around 100 suckler cows have been submitted to the Fallen Stock Centre for a post mortem.

The data has shown that no diagnosis is common and sometimes it is not cost-effective to establish the exact cause of death with further laboratory testing, Eblex says.

In these instances, the aim is often to rule out common infectious or contagious diseases in a suckler cow or herd, it says.

Eblex says the results will always be biased away from very obvious causes because producers will know the reason of death in these cases.

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