Farm Animal Health: Pet and Livestock Predators

MOTHER's Country Vet shares tips on farm animal health, including questions on staying one step ahead of pet and livestock predators, prevention, medicine and treatment.

| June/July 1997

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    An Ithaca Jersey receives some TLC from Dr. Looney.

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Andrea Looney, DVM, offers her farm animal health experience in caring for cows, calves, horses and sheep. This issue includes questions on pet and livestock predators. 

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress may be judged by the way its animals are treated.
—Mahatma Ghandi

Control of Pet and Livestock Predators and Pests

As medicine moves into more and more technologized eras, we are developing a health-care system that often views the patient as a collection of moving parts, all fixable. Advances in medicine for the most part have projected our nation farther into exceptional health care than most peoples will ever know. Yet, are these advances converged on the fixable part to the extent that they are discompassionate and lifeless to the individual (person and animal)? Imbalances of general health and lack of common compassion and common sense have the same negative and disquieting effects on our companion animals as they do us. It is more imperative than ever that we find methods of wellness, prevention, and care that have broader perspectives for us and our animals. MOTHER strives to communicate this urgency with an understanding that healing for the least among us (through oftentimes simple methods) will lead to the health of the entire individual and a betterment of the community. I hope you continue to join us in this concern with your questions and letters.

Our Jersey cows have a disease known as laminitis. What can we do to prevent it? These cows are housed outdoors mostly. Their lameness was noticed first a few months ago when the ground got softer.
—Will Davis
New Ulm, MN

Much of the modern dairy cow's difficulty with hoof disorders is directly related to abnormal hoof growth caused by laminitis. Inflammation and disruption of the lamina (the part of the foot that suspends the bones in the hoof) results in unusually unrestricted hoof growth most often detected as elongated toes, rings in the hoof wall, and overgrown outside hoof walls. Since the hind legs support more weight than the front legs, the outside rear claws and the inside (medial) front claws bear a majority of the problem in lame cows.

Laminitis is an inflammation of the suspending laminae, the tissue that holds the hoof on the foot. There are two forms, acute and chronic. The acute form is very painful and all four feet may be affected to the point that the animal doesn't stand or move. First-calf heifers are most severely affected. Common factors that contribute to the development of laminitis include acute or chronic rumen acidosis or endotoxemia (rapid or high concentrate change in feed), foot trauma such as concrete confinement, improper claw trimming or overgrowth, poor conformation, and continued exposure to moisture and acids in manure and urine. Some nutritional deficiencies and some viral infections (BVD) may cause laminitis as well.

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