Diseases are a major threat to livestock production. They increase the cost of production, reduce the quality of production, reduce income and sometimes may cause the collapse of a livestock production business.
In many cases, livestock diseases are preventable with the application of very simple precautionary measures. Livestock farmers must be aware of the causes of livestock diseases and the possible easiest ways of prevention.
Causes of Livestock Diseases
Diseases cause dysfunctioning of the body of the livestock. Poor sanitation, improper management, and the introduction of new animals into a herd most often are cited for the spread of diseases.
The following may be the causes of livestock diseases.
1. Nutritional defects
Livestock requires balanced food nutrients their ration or cause nutritional defects. Livestock receiving inadequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and protein cannot produce efficiently. This reduces their levels of resistance to diseases.
2. Physiological defects
These defects may include improper functioning of glands, organs and/or body systems. There is a direct relation between diet and the proper functioning of the body parts. For example, the thyroid gland regulates the rate of body metabolism and depends upon an adequate supply of iodine to function properly. An improperly functioning thyroid gland may increase the nutritive requirements of animals to the point that very few nutrients are available for growth or production.
3. Morphological/Physical defects
Morphological defects include; cuts, scrapes, scratches, bruises, and broken bones. An accident or negligence may be responsible for physical defects. Anyone of these can temporarily or permanently reduce the efficiency of an animal. Good management practices help eliminate defects of this nature.
4. Pathogenic defects
Certain organisms produce toxins or poisons that upset the normal metabolic activity of the animal. Viruses and bacteria are the most common disease-causing pathogens. They are microscopic in size and capable of multiplying rapidly under ideal environmental conditions. Other pathogens are fungi and protozoans. Below is a discussion on each type.
Viral diseases: Most difficult to control because they closely resemble the chemical compounds that make up a cell. Moreover, chemicals capable of killing or controlling them also kill or destroy the host cell. Preventive vaccinations are the most successful method of controlling viral diseases.
Bacterial diseases: Bacteria are microscopic in size. They produce powerful toxins and multiply rapidly. Many bacteria are capable of forming spores. Spore are resistant forms of bacterial cells able to withstand severe environmental conditions. These spores are difficult to control and may lie dormant for years before being provided with the opportunity to cause disease. The use of antibiotics can successfully to control the bacteria.
Fungal diseases: They are caused by fungi, which are small organisms. Many disease-producing fungi live in the soil. It is often difficult to determine the cause of fungal diseases because bacteria cause a secondary infection and are often erroneously identified as fungi.
Protozoa: They are one-celled and the simplest form of animal life. Some protozoa cannot move and must be transported by other means. Some move by making whip-like lashes or vibrating projections. A number of different kinds of protozoa prey upon animals and cause disease.
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Preventive Measures and Good Management Practices
Prevention is the key and the best way to controlling animal diseases. Sanitation is the key to prevention of diseases. Most disease-causing agents enter the body through some type of body opening, such as the nose, eyes, mouth, or wound incision. Pathogens may be spread by direct contact, or indirectly by the wind, water, feed, or other animals. After entering the host, a pathogen must overcome the natural resistance of the body to produce the disease.
The following management practices are possibly the best methods of controlling diseases.
- Provide an environment that prevents or restricts the growth of pathogens (sanitation).
- Give the livestock a balanced diet.
- Provide protection from accidental injury. The practices include the following standards for the animals’ living quarters.
- Sufficient space for all animals. Crowded conditions tend to promote the incidence of disease.
- Fresh air and temperature control through ventilation.
- Good drainage. Keep floors and pens dry and clean. Moreover, keep bedding fresh and dispose of manure often.
- Systematic pasture rotation system. This is a practical method of disease and parasite control. It breaks
the life cycle of pathogens by removing the host. Besides, the ultraviolet rays of sunlight kill pathogens when the pasture does not have livestock in it to reinfest it.
- Also, use of disinfectants. Use regularly chemicals that restrict the growth of pathogens. Soap and boiling water are two inexpensive disinfectants available to livestock producers.
- Before you introduce animals into the herd, isolate them for 3-4weeks. This
includes both new animals and those removed from the herd and exposed to other animals.
- Follow a sound immunization program.
- Provide clean, healthful surroundings.
- Rations must be nutritionally adequate.
- Do not allow visitors and new animals in the livestock area. If you must, make sure you provide adequate disinfection.
- Scout regularly for diseases and diagnose quickly and accurately.
- Consult a competent veterinarian when a health problem arises.
- Handle livestock properly. Examples of how to handle animals include the following:
- Use canvas slappers, rather than clubs and whips.
- Eliminate protruding nails and broken boards.
- Remove machinery and equipment from the lot.
- Bed barns and trucks properly.
- Load animals slowly and carefully.
- Use partitions to separate different classes of livestock.
- Protect livestock from severe weather.
- Governmental regulations are also very important in controlling the transportation and sale of livestock. The provision of local veterinarian also help assist farmers establish disease prevention program. They also serve as a source of information on government regulations affecting the livestock producer.
Proper management practices and prevention measures are key to reducing livestock diseases and so, a profitable livestock venture. Consulting the local veterinarian and learning more about diseases will help reduce the incidence of diseases on your livestock farm.
Causes, Symptoms, Prevention and Treatment of Various Animal Diseases (birdvilleschools.net)