NADIS disease forecast – cattle (July)

The NADIS disease forecast is based on detailed Met Office data, and regional veterinary reports from 37 farm animal practices and the large animal units at six UK veterinary colleges.

NADIS data can highlight potential livestock disease and parasite incidences before they peak, providing a valuable early warning for the month ahead.

July 2004

Richard Laven BVetMed MRCVS


NADIS Cattle Disease Forecast

Adult Cattle

Most fertility problems decreased in June. In particular, the proportion of cows not seen bulling decreased and, provided the weather remains OK in July, this is likely to continue as the effects of turnout lessen.

However, oestrus detection remains vital and it’s important to ensure that temporary staff employed during the holiday period can identify bulling cows.

One area for potential problems is calving. Calving problems in July are often associated with oversized calves and overfat dry cows, particularly when rapid grass growth occurs.

Checking the condition of your dry cows regularly can prevent overfat cows at calving. Fat cows don’t just have more difficult calvings. They are more prone to most diseases that occur in early lactation such as metritis, mastitis, and lameness, and they produce less milk. Much of this is due to fat deposition in the liver (“fatty liver”).

June was a variable month weatherwise although relatively dry. July has started cool. This has meant that the main lameness problems have continued at or below average as they have all year.

However, on farms where cattle have to walk considerable distances look out for white line problems which are closely associated with poor tracks and tend to increase as summer progresses.

Metabolic disease
Milk fever is a common problem for cattle during the summer, particularly in the later part of the season. So far this summer, milk fever levels have been 25% above average, so if you have cows drying off in July and August it’s time to look at prevention now. Milk fever is closely linked to dry cow management.

It’s important to ensure that cows don’t gain condition during the dry period. If necessary, buffer feed dry cows as this will prevent cows gaining condition and allow you to control calcium intake.


Other metabolic diseases may be less important than milk fever but prevention is still important. Grass staggers is is less common in July and August but still kills a significant number of cows. Making sure that cows get enough magnesium every day will prevent grass staggers and also help reduce the number of cases of milk fever.

The number of displaced abomasums reported by NADIS vets fell in June, but the number reported was still higher than that seen in the peak months in previous years. We urgently need more research to understand why this is the case.

 If you have DA’s on your own farm it is worth spending time with your vet to establish the most likely causes in your cows, because it’s likely that cows with a DA are the tip of the iceberg and many cows that are apparently unaffected will be underperforming.

July is usually the first month where a significant number of cases are seen so get your control plan for summer mastitis in place now. Damp warm conditions will enhance the hatching and activity of the flies that spread the disease and unless preventive measures such as teat sealing or sealants, dry cow therapy, and insect control are soon started it may be too late.


Other Disease Problems
Last year the number of cases of lungworm were much higher than average, particularly in adult cattle. So far this year there have been fewer cases but July is usually the first month of the summer rise.

Using long-acting wormers in calves can reduce the risk of lungworm in treated stock, but the risk of lungworm in adults can be increased. The only truly effective prevention is vaccination, however too many farms have stopped vaccinating. On many farms this does not make economic sense, one case of adult lungworm can pay for 200 doses of vaccine.


Growing Cattle
Calving problems remain a commonly reported problem in this age of cattle. This does suggest that either heifer management or choice of bulls used is suspect. Heifers with calving problems very often do not become economically productive and are culled.

This is a waste of time, effort and money. Getting calving right gives the heifer the best chance of getting in the milking herd and staying there. If you are having calving problems with your heifers, veterinary advice can save you a significant amount of money
Except for lungworm, the outlook for parasites is relatively good, with low levels of disease expected. However proper grazing strategies will still be required to prevent disease.

So far this year the number of cases of New Forest eye have been average with a steady increase since March. This disease is thus one to watch for this month. Early treatment  is essential, so check the eyes of youngstock at pasture at least once a day.


Most calf problems reduced in June, particularly enteritis. Coccidiosis has been at a very high level so far this season. As numbers tend to increase in July, it is important to be on the lookout for this disease.

This is particularly important in younger calves (3 to 4 weeks of age) as this disease seems to becoming more common in this age group. To achieve effective control of coccidia, good management and hygiene is vital. This should include regularly moving feed and water troughs and preventing them from being contaminated with faeces.


While every effort is made to ensure that the content of this forecast is accurate at the time of publication, NADIS cannot accept responsibility for errors or omissions. All information is general and will need to be adapted in the light of individual farm circumstances in consultation with your veterinary surgeon

Copyright © NADIS 2002

• To find out more
about lungworm, click here


If you want to know more about summer mastitis click here…



If you want to know more about New Forest Eye click here…

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