Respiratory disease accounts for 26% of all deaths in beef and dairy cattle, the Department of Agriculture’s Laboratories Quarterly Surveillance Report has found.

The report refers to the third quarter of 2015 (July to September) which was characterised by a wetter than average July and August and a very dry, but cool, September.

The late summer months typically herald a reduction in carcass submissions to Department laboratories while animals are at pasture during July and August with an occasional rise in submissions of weanlings recorded, particularly with diagnoses of pneumonia, in September as the autumn sales begin.

The report found that the seasonal rise in respiratory disease submissions was not witnessed in this quarter which is probably, in part, due to the favourable weather conditions for stock at weaning this year.

Alimentary tract disease was diagnosed most frequently as the cause of death in all ages of cattle in the second quarter with respiratory disease considerably less frequently diagnosed.

This quarter recorded a reversal of this trend with respiratory disease recorded moderately more frequently than alimentary tract disease.

The most common causes of death in cattle

Pneumonia was the most common cause of death in cattle of all ages in the third quarter, with 90 deaths.

Enteritis was the second most common cause of death in cattle with approximately 27 deaths, followed by poisoning with 17 deaths.

Blackleg was the next common cause (approximately 17 deaths), followed by septicaemia. A full list is available in the graph below:

Top 10 causes of death cattle

In calves aged less than one month the most common cause of death was alimentary tract disease, accounting for almost 40% of all deaths in this category.

In calves aged greater than one month but less than three months 33% of calves in this category died from respiratory disease. This was closely followed by alimentary tract disease (almost 30%).