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Australia - Rainfall risks for livestock producers

“Now that we’ve had some rain in most parts of the region, it’s a good time to review the vaccination status of livestock and give booster injections where appropriate, particularly for clostridial diseases such as pulpy kidney,” Nigel Gillan, Central Tablelands Local Land Services district vet, said.

Pulpy kidney most commonly occurs in young, growing sheep grazing lush pasture or being fed on grain or pellets. Symptoms include convulsions, tremors, and scouring, however mortality is swift and affected animals are often not discovered until after death.

“Summer rain also favours the development of Barber’s Pole worm larvae on pastures, and production losses or deaths can occur with little warning,” Dr Gillan said.

“We encourage sheep producers to do a worm egg count and adjust drenching programs where necessary.”

Landholders are also advised to check pastures for new weeds and toxic plants that could cause further problems for stock.

“Recently in the Central Tablelands region we have seen sheep suffering from photosensitisation caused by panic grasses, and we have previously seen cases of acute phalaris toxicity under similar conditions,” he said.

And while rainfall will hopefully alleviate water supply shortages, when heavy rain occurs after a long dry spell, water can be contaminated by an influx of debris and sediment.

“Water test kits are available from Local Land Services, and we are currently offering free testing services for drought or fire-affected producers,” Dr Gillan added.