Extra Vigilance Needed For Common Disease and Illness

During the Summer months, animals traditionally graze grass in the fields as their main food source. Fields are not always located close to the yard. Farmers may need to allocate additional time to herd their livestock. With the ever-changing weather conditions, we encourage farmers to be extra vigilant for signs of disease and illness.

Prevention of disease and illness should be a priority on all farms. To identify a sick animal, observation is key. The best times to detect ill animals are just before and during feeding times. We recommend that farmers take time to monitor each animal individually. If necessary, walk around the animals while maintaining a safe distance.

Disease and illness can be prevented through good herd management, proper nutrition, and vaccinations. Depending on the type of cattle and their ages, animals should receive specific vaccinations. Common vaccinations and doses for this time of year include Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR) and dosing for lung and stomach worms, but we would recommend you discuss this with your local veterinarian and consult your vaccination programme. Farmers can use the handy farming app, Herdwatch, to easily record and keep track of farm medicines.

Common disease and illness to look out for in cattle at this time of year include pneumonia, Redwater, and stomach worms.


As we are currently experiencing unsettled weather conditions, cattle are at a higher risk of getting pneumonia. Pneumonia is the most common cause of death in cattle over one month old. Signs of pneumonia include respiratory distress (panting/wheezing), sunken eyes, nasal discharge, dry cough, body temperature of greater than 41°C, and decreased appetite. Animals may have separated themselves from the herd and are slow to get up/move. Traditionally pneumonia is treated with injectable antibiotics. We advise farmers to work with their veterinarian to choose a treatment protocol.

Redwater (In some parts of the country)

Caused by the parasite, Babesia divergens, Redwater is a life-threatening disease. It is transmitted by ticks usually found on callow and moor land, but due to current weather conditions, cases have been found on well maintained pastures. Symptoms include animals staying away from the herd, loss of appetite, high temperature or frothy red/brown urine. It may take up to two weeks for symptoms to present themselves with animals over 6 months being mostly affected. If you are moving animals to land that is suspectable to ticks, you can treat animals four weeks in advance to prevent the disease. If you suspect as case of Redwater, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Dosing for Worms

Cattle can contract worms through the grass consumption. Farmers should watch for animals that have a scour or a cough, have a rough coat of hair and aren’t thriving or have lost weight. It is recommended that cattle be dosed for worms three weeks after being let out to grass and every six weeks thereafter. Farmers should dose for worms routinely as per guidelines set out by their veterinarian. Once dosed, it is recommended that the animals are brought to a new field, not to risk the chance of reinfection.

Animals showing any of the above symptoms should be removed from the field and brought to a pen designated only for sick animals. Once they are seen to by the vet, have taken the recommended medicine and are no longer showing symptoms of illness, the animal can return to the herd. The farmer should monitor the rest of the herd to ensure illness does not spread. Also, the pen that the sick animal was in must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

Herdwatch is an easy to use farming app that allows farmers to spend less time on paperwork. With features including Herd Management and Bord Bia Compliance, farmers can record all medications to given to animals on the app and have easy access to withdrawal periods. For more information on Herdwatch, visit https://herdwatch.ie/.

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