Dear Valued Interested Persons,

The effect of Drought on Cattle would seem obvious from the often gut wrenching images we see on the news and particularly for those less fortunate who experience it firsthand.

Nonetheless looking a little closer is a worthwhile exercise as the effect runs deep and in terms of reproduction can be profound.

In addition to Starvation, Malnutrition and Extreme Dehydration here are some other effects of Drought on Cattle which are less publicised written by Professor Floron Faries, Jr. of Texas AgriLife Extension writing for :

  • An obvious impact is that cattle can’t get enough to eat, and cattle get thin malnutrition/starvation, range ketosis (hypoglycemia in thin/nursing cows under stress), grain aflatoxin poisoning from stressed corn and sorghum, and lumpy jaw/woody tongue from irritated mouths and tongues due to eating sharp or dry forages;
  • Cattle of course get dehydrated during droughts because of high salinity in tanks. Faries says >10,000 PPM will reduce water intake and high salt intakes can cause neurological signs;

  • Drought-stressed cattle suffering from heat, malnutrition and dehydration can exhibit low fertility, low milk production, abortion, dystocia, retained afterbirth, uterine prolapses and immunosuppression;
  • Cattle that are already sick and facing drought conditions can be highly stressed and experience immunosuppression, germ recrudescence, germ shedding, low immunity, low response to vaccines and contact exposure of pathogens;
  • Drought can cause downers and dead cattle from malnutrition, laminitis and polioencephalomalacia from low protein/low roughage/high sulfate diets, grain diets without roughage, downer cows attempting to stand and cattle with ankles that remain flexed or knuckled over;
  • Cattle can die from grain aflatoxin poisoning of stressed corn and sorghum with >600 PPB of aflatoxins.
    Plant nitrate poisoning can occur during drought in stressed corn, sorghum and Johnson grass containing>1% nitrates.
    Plant cyanide poisoning can also occur in stressed sorghum and Johnson grass. And in times of reduced forages, animals can resort to eating poisonous plants. Soil-borne issues such as clostridial pathogens and anthrax can also occur during periods of drought and can be fatal to cattle.

Post-drought issues

There are post-drought issues as well in terms of cattle health.

Faries notes that after rains move in post-drought, plant cyanide poisoning can still be a problem. Fog Fever (pulmonary emphysema and edema) can cause toxic reactions in the lungs after the consumption of lush, green grass in the spring or fall. Rains can also stir up clostridial pathogens and anthrax from dry soil.

  • If producers have lost or liquidated cattle due to drought and are restocking, they need to keep animal health in mind with purchased cows and bulls which can carry easily-spread diseases such as Johne’s disease, neosporosis, vibriosis and trichomoniasis.

Floron Faries, Jr.- here

Noting Australia lost 1/56th of its entire Cattle population in February / March 2019 to Floods in QLD and that we are in terrible Drought conditions presently is it a stretch to suggest significant Livestock loss due to Drought and the subsequent potential effects on reproduction could significantly threaten Australia’s $20,000,000,000 Red Meat & Livestock worldwide market(?):

The Livestock Drought Insurance proposal OBA Consulting proposes to Insurers contains a ‘financial trigger’ or ‘Insuring clause’ being ‘The purchase of feed’ – Insuring clause 3.

The purpose of this, broadly, is to keep the Livestock alive whilst providing a second layer of protection for the Farmer in addition to mortality including humane slaughter – Insuring clause 1. ‘Loss of Livestock’.

Proposed policy Insuring clauses are as follows:

  1. Loss of Livestock;
  2. Livestock transportation cost;
  3. The purchase of feed;

Full 2 page concept proposal form:

‘Whilst sadly it is impossible to eliminate Livestock loss due to Drought being able to purchase feed subsequent to access to funds via Livestock Drought Insurance could quite literally be lifesaving for Farmers and their Cattle’

Brett O’Brien – Managing Director OBA Consulting

Thirsty Cattle swarm a water truck in NSW August 2018 – BBC article short video here

Whilst this topic is absolutely no laughing matter whatsoever humour being an integral part of sound mental health lastly a question on a lighter note:

Q. What do cows get when they are sick?

A. Hay Fever!

Patricia O’Brien – OBA Consulting Office Manager – enjoying the breeze off Lake Boga, Swan Hill, on a 38 degree evening Christmas Eve 2018.