Careful management can help minimise the impacts on productivity when a flood event occurs. Knowing the signs of pasture damage, parasites and disease that occur during and after flood events can make recovery faster and more effective.
After a flood, livestock can be particularly susceptible to certain types of parasites and diseases. Populations of biting or nuisance insects may also increase.
- Recent rain may cause an increase in flies. Flystrike, particularly body-strike, can be caused by wet wool and dermatitis and after a flood sheep should be monitored daily.
- Cattle ticks thrive in warm and humid conditions, which can lead to tick fever after floods or major rain events in Northern Australia.
- Floods provide ideal conditions for several species of gastrointestinal worms to flourish. Effective worm control is needed to reduce parasite burdens in both sheep and cattle. Use worm testing tools such as worm egg counts (WEC), larval cultures or the Haemonchus dipstick to develop targeted drenching and grazing programs.
- Clostridial diseases, such as blackleg and pulpy kidney can increase due to bacteria commonly found in contaminated water and soil. Ensure all livestock vaccinations are up-to-date.
- Investigate sheep lameness, as virulent footrot often occurs in wet and warm conditions.
- Watch for symptoms of three day sickness and Akabane as populations of biting insects such as mosquitoes increases.
To ensure animal health and welfare after a flood:
- Keep livestock away from areas that have been spoilt with floodwater from stockyards or other areas that had a high build-up of manure and urine.
- Monitor lactating cows and ewes as environmental mastitis is caused by mud and bacteria.
- Inspect hay and grain for water damage or toxic mould growth as pasteurellosis, salmonellosis and botulism are bacterial diseases caused by ingesting contaminated feed or water that may become more prevalent after a flood.
- Implement a weed control program and restrict livestock from areas where toxic plants may be present.
- If livestock show signs of ill-thrift or illness, seek immediate advice from veterinarians or DPI animal health officers.
- Check fences and ensure they are stock-proof to enable biosecurity to be managed and protected.
The effect of flooding is dependent on the flow and temperature of water, soil type, depth and duration of flooding, the health and type of plant species and the amount of silt or debris deposited. These factors will determine if pastures successfully recover, or if pastures will need to be resown.
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