Not displaying properly? Click here to read online.

Orange Veterinary Hospital
57 Molong Rd
Orange, NSW, 2800
Phone: 02 6361 8388

Who stole autumn?

Our glorious autumn colour has arrived however the dry and unseasonally warm weather conditions are providing lots of challenges for livestock owners and managers. With winter approaching and feed supplies depleted, many farmers are selling rather than trying to feed through the colder months with no surety of a seasonal break any time soon.

We have previously published an item regarding animals being 'Fit to Load' and it's timely to revisit this space - see Item 2 in this newsletter. If you are considering selling options you need to ensure stock are in reasonable sale condition and fit to travel.

Earlier planning and action can make life easier!

autumn leaves2
Contents of this newsletter

01  Beware: Autumn colic!

02  Is it fit to load?

03  The ins and out of BVDV (Pestivirus)

04  Case study: horse with a broken leg

05  National Sheep Health Declarations

06  Animal welfare part of new LPA requirements

01 Beware: Autumn colic!

Autumn is here and with the cool seasonal change often comes in increase in the number of cases of colic.

Colic is a pretty broad term used by vets and horse owners alike to describe any form of abdominal pain. Most of us are familiar with the common signs – pawing, rolling, sweating, dullness, and inappetence, to name a few. There are a huge range of different causes of colic, however the increase in cases during the Autumn months can be attributed to a couple of factors.

1. Lack of pasture cover
Following the Summer, pasture on offer is usually limited and of low quality and poor digestibility. Horses will tend to graze closer to the ground and in sandy soils this can lead to ingestion of significant amounts of sand. This sand can accumulate and consequently cause irritation within the digestive system, resulting in sand colic.

2. Cooler weather
Cooler weather can lead to reduced water intake. Given the lack of pasture availability, hay is often fed to cover the feed gap. This high fibre diet, combined with inadequate water intake, means that the digestive tract can be lacking in the moisture it needs to run smoothly and impaction colic can be the result.

Tips to prevent colic this Autumn:

+ Always provide fresh, readily accessible water
+ Supplement the diet with small amounts of salt to encourage water intake
+ Avoid overgrazing pasture, and feed hay or grain in feeders to prevent sand ingestion
+ Ensure dietary changes are always made gradually

02 Is it fit to load?
Cattle loading 2

Steer loading - image courtesy

The MLA have developed a great resource Is it fit to load? to help you decide whether an animal is fit to be loaded, for transport by road or rail to any destination within Australia. It is an offence to load and transport an animal in away that causes, or is likely to cause, it unnecessary harm. These Standards replace the individual state and territory codes of practice regarding animal welfare, so the same rules for livestock transport now apply nationwide. 

An animal is not fit for the journey if it:

  • cannot walk normally, bearing weight on all legs
  • is severely emaciated or visibly dehydrated
  • is suffering from severe visible distress or injury
  • is in a condition that could cause it increased pain or distress during transport
  • is blind in both eyes
  • is in late pregnancy

If you identify an animal which is unfit to load, you can:

  • treat the animal and transport it when recovered and fit to load
  • humanely destroy the animal
  • consult a vet and then transport the animal only under veterinary advice

The guide also includes feed and water curfews, and specific examples of animals which are unfit to load. Please ask us if you're not sure about an animal's fitness to travel.

Remember: If in doubt – leave it out!

03 The ins and out of BVDV (Pestivirus)

Bovine Viral Diarrhoea Virus (BVDV or Pestivirus) is very common in Australian cattle herds with around 90% of herds showing evidence of past infection. Here's what you need to know ...

BVDV is capable of causing 25-50% production losses in recently infected herds and can decimate pregnancy rates. When cattle are infected with BVDV in the first month of pregnancy, it is likely the embryo will die.

It is estimated that 1% of the Australian cattle population is persistently infected (PI) with BVDV. A PI animal will always be infected, they cannot cure their infection. An animal which is not born as a PI can never become one.

What is a PI?

+ A PI is a calf born with BVDV due to infection with the virus as a foetus (between 1-4 months gestation).
+ Their immune system does not recognise the virus as foreign, and thus they are not capable of ever getting rid of the disease.
+ They are the major source of infection in your herd.

Key ways to manage the disease on farm

+ Find and remove any PI animals.
Identify management groups with insufficient immunity and vaccinate them.
+ Implement a vaccination program for new young stock
+ Biosecurity (don't introduce a PI)
+ Surveillance – monitoring heifers for evidence of infection & monitoring milk (if you’re a dairy farmer).

BVDV can have serious impacts on profitability on your farm. Speak to us if you would like to pursue a management plan.


Pestivirus can be responsible for some very odd deformities in calves.

04 Case study: horse with a broken leg

A broken leg is usually a death sentence for a horse - a horse’s size, anatomy and heavy dependence on four fully functional limbs means that they usually cannot be treated like that of a dog, cat or human with a broken leg. Nevertheless, there are instances where broken legs can be repaired, with some horses even returning to competition.

Such is the case with this promising 4 year old Standardbred mare, who became suddenly lame during fast work, prompting her trainer to call the vet.

The mare obviously lame in the front left and there was some swelling developing around the pastern and fetlock area. Several diagnostic tests were performed to investigate the cause of the lameness, as there were a number of possible diagnoses. X-rays were taken and showed clearly that the mare had fractured her pastern bone (or P1 bone).

Fractures of the P1 bone may occur in any type of horse used for performance, but more commonly in those that exercise at high speed. The P1 bone may fracture in a variety of ways including: chip fractures along the joint surface, sagittally or "down the middle" (as shown in this case), or comminuted (multiple fragments). The prognosis and treatment options vary depending on the type and extent of the fracture.

In this case, the fracture was able to be repaired by a specialist surgeon with the placement of two large screws across the bone. The screws act to stabilize the break and allow the bone to heal. With several weeks of box rest in a protective cast and bandage, followed by yard rest and a steady rehabilitation process this mare is expected to have a 70-80% chance of returning to racing.


05 National Sheep Health Declarations

If a sheep farm was a car then the PIC would be a driver's licence, the NLIS tags the vehicles' number plates, and the NVD it's registration papers. So think of the National Sheep Health Declaration as the mechanic's report.

The SHD is the most important disease risk management tool livestock buyers have available to them. It enables producers to assess the risk of diseases such as virulent footrot, lice, ovine brucellosis, Johne’s disease and other biosecurity risks such as noxious and declared weeds. This should be asked for when buying, selling or even if you’re just agisting stock.

The SHD and is available on the farm biosecurity website and can be filled out electronically.

06 Animal welfare part of new LPA requirements

The Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program is the Australian livestock industry’s on-farm assurance program covering food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity. It provides evidence of livestock history and on-farm practices when transferring livestock through the value chain.

Seven separate but complementary elements make up the LPA program. Whilst participation is technically voluntary, in practice it is not because without LPA accreditation, producers do not have access to the National Vendor Declaration Form. Without this form, it is not possible to sell stock to processors and feedlots (MLA 2017).

The seven requirements are:

1. Property risk assessments
2. Safe and responsible animal treatments
3. Stock foods, fodder crops, grain and pasture treatments
4. Preparation for dispatch of livestock
5. Livestock transactions and movements
6. Biosecurity
7. Animal Welfare

The animal welfare component has been in effect since 1st October 2017. Under LPA, on-farm systems must be implemented to ensure the handling of livestock is consistent with the requirements of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for cattle, sheep and goats (as applicable).

Requirements include:

+ A copy of the current version of the Standards and Guidelines for cattle, sheep and/or goats (as applicable) is accessible as a reference
+ The PIC representative or persons responsible for the handling of livestock have successfully completed training in relation to the Standards and Guidelines through the LPA eLearning Tool or equivalent training
+ The staff involved in animal husbandry are familiar with the content of the current version of the Standards and Guidelines for cattle, sheep and/or goats (as applicable)
+ Any other procedures or practices that contribute to improved animal welfare Outcomes

Republished from Australian Cattle Veterinarians Conference Proceedings 2018