Coccidiosis threat now
RECENT cold, wet weather provides ideal conditions for coccidiosis to thrive, spelling bad news for sheep producers. But housed calves could also be at risk especially when kept in dirty conditions, warns one Cumbrian vet.
"Poor weather stresses lambs making them more susceptible to coccidiosis. Although I havent seen much yet this year, recent wet and cold weather could lead to the disease appearing in finishing lambs," says Penrith-based vet Matt Colston.
Puddles of mud, dung and water around creep feeders form an ideal breeding ground for coccidia, he says. "Where many animals occupy the same space, such as near feeders or – in the case of calves – in yards, the disease can easily be picked up."
On farms where coccidiosis occurs, prompt treatment will reduce casualties and depressed growth rates due to gut damage.
"Most producers whose flocks are susceptible to coccidiosis know when they succumbed to it last year and should aim to treat at this time or when the first signs of scouring appear."
The introduction of a lamb drench last year means producers can now more confidently protect their flocks, adds Mr Colston.
"While coccidiostat blocks or in-feed preparations can be effective in prevention and treatment, it is difficult to be certain that all animals are eating enough."
The drench is not yet licensed for calves, but an injectable sulphadimidine is still effective and cleanliness can go a long way in preventing the disease.
"Coccidiosis can occur in housed calves of any age. Making sure animals are clean and adequately bedded will minimise the risk."