2019: The Year of Mud
The new year has kicked off with plenty of moisture on the heels of the second wettest year in recorded history. Rain, snow, mud and fluctuating temperatures have been a huge challenge for an already stressed agriculture industry. We are seeing many weather-related health issues that producers of all types of livestock should be aware of.
Extreme wet weather in 2018 impacted the quality of both hay and stockpiled grazing. Your livestock may appear to have full bellies, but still be deficient in calories or mineral. A high-quality, species-appropriate mineral supplement should be available to livestock at all times. Work with your veterinarian to monitor body condition scores and modify supplemental feeds as needed.
The wet weather and muddy pastures increase the caloric needs of your herd. Young stock will be most affected by the cold, but we are also seeing impacts in older animals.
Mud increases the risk of injury. Watch areas around feeders and waterers that may develop large mud holes.
We are seeing an increase in many diseases this winter, most notably footrot, prolapses and grass tetany in cattle. Sheep and goats are also battling hoof rot and foot scald issues. Discuss these issues with your veterinarian so that you are aware of what to look for and how to deal with these issues should they arise.
Some animals, especially young calves, sheep, and goats, are spending more time in barns and run-in shelters due to the weather. Keep shelters clean and dry with frequent removal of feces to minimize the risk of disease transmission.