During winter, ill-thrift and scouring is a common occurrence and one where multiple causes should be considered.
One possible cause is yersiniosis.
Yersiniosis is a bacterial infection that can infect both cattle and sheep. Most of the time it doesn’t cause any ill health in your animals and can go unnoticed.
However, Yersinia can cause problems when livestock are under stress or there is already damage to the gut wall (such as a large worm burden).
In these situations, signs of ill health are most commonly seen in younger stock. Typically, you may notice a history of ill-thrift and ongoing scouring that hasn’t responded to drenching.
The good news is most stock recover from infection and become immune to the disease. Some deaths may occur in your stock but treatment with antibiotics is often successful.
In the meantime, there are things you can do on your property to prevent losses from yersiniosis and other similar diseases.
Simply optimising pasture utilisation during these colder months, practising good parasite control and minimising stress will help protect your stock.
It is important to remember that other causes of ill-thrift and scouring can look like yersiniosis so it is best to contact your veterinarian to investigate these cases.
■For further information, contact your local vet or Agriculture Victoria animal health staff, or in NSW your Local Land Services.
—Dr Jeff Cave
district veterinary officer