NADIS disease forecast – cattle (August)

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.

August 2004

Richard Laven BVetMed MRCVS


NADIS Cattle Disease Forecast

In July the number of cows with missed oestrus increased slightly, which is unusual. As August sees a significant increase in the number of cows eligible for insemination, oestrus detection will increase in importance.

Cattle need to be observed when they are not distracted by being moved in for milking or after being fed.  An evening stroll often makes the difference between average and good oestrous detection rates.


Calving problems increased in July, despite the usual fall in calvings in this month. The number of calves that were damaged during calving was still high.

This suggests that planning for calving, particularly the calling in of veterinary and other assistance, is not good enough. Damaged calves are not only a welfare problem; they are an economic cost.

Cows whose calves are damaged during calving, even if they are apparently okay at the time, have significantly more diseases in early lactation and cost far more to get back into calf.

Damage to calves is also often associated with damage to cows and this was the case in July. Calving damage in cows was too common, with a high number of down cows post calving. Money spent on assistance with difficult calvings is money well spent.

Most other fertility problems reduced in July, however this is likely to change in August. Early identification of such problems in the first few cows due for service allows for prompt action to improve fertility in the later-served cows, saving time and money.

This is just as important for suckler cows as dairy cattle. The profitability of all suckler cow enterprises is dependent on calf production, ideally with a short calving spread within the herd. Herds should be checked to see that service is taking place rapidly.

The wet stormy weather in August, particularly in the north of the country, is likely to have added to the levels of lameness (which were relatively high in July), particularly of digital dermatitis, white line disease and foul-in-the-foot.

In wet weather, it’s important to ensure that cows feet are kept as dry as possible. Poorly maintained cow tracks and feeding/drinking areas are the main culprits. Digital dermatitis cases are still high with several herd outbreaks. Now is the time to plan your control regime so that feet are in as good a condition as possible before housing.


Metabolic disease
Displaced abomasum cases increased in July, following last years pattern. This disease is now a significant problem on many farms and proper investigation is vital if prevention is to be achieved.


Milk fever continued its normal summer rise in July. August and September are high risk months, so focus on your dry cow nutrition to prevent this costly disease. If you have had problems in the past, don’t rely on grass only diets, especially when grass growth is good.

Warm wet weather is perfect for summer mastitis so vigilance is essential. Check dry cows and springing heifers at least twice a day, paying particular attention to the teats and udder, looking for lame cows and cows attracting flies.

On problem farms the diesease is also being seen in very youngstock so it’s important to check these too. In adult cattle the use of an internal teat sealant may also be a useful preventative measure. Discuss this with your vet.

Other Disease Problems
The number of husk outbreaks seen in July was far higher than normal. This is likely to persist until well after housing. Outbreaks have been seen in both adults and youngstock. In many areas will need preventative treatment.


The conditions so far this year have not been as good for fluke as 2002, but in the affected areas, the level of pasture contamination is likely to be high enough to pose a significant risk. Plan your control regime now.

Growing Cattle
Lameness was prominent in this group of cattle, particularly foul in the foot was very prominent. In those areas which have experienced the storms this is likely to remain the case, particularly if the underfoot conditiuons get wetter. 

Summer mastitis, new forest eye and lungworm remain significant risks which all need to be looked closely for. With all three early detection and treatment can pay big dividends.

The problems of growing animals are reflected in calves with the two big dangers being husk and New Forest eye, both of which are likely to get significantly worse during August and September.


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

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If you want to know more about calf pneumonia  click here…



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