‘Prayers and Perseverance’ Nebraska vet says worst of livestock health effects still to come


Savanna Simmons, The Fence Post

April 13, 2019


In a 15 to 20 mile radius around the town of Ashland, Neb., it's mucky and wet, but thankfully not flooded. Most everywhere else is a different story.


Dr. Richard Porter, with Porter Ridge Vet Clinic in Ashland, said most of the livestock are still in either mucky or flooded conditions, and they can't and won't be treated until they can escape those conditions. Unfortunately for many, that isn't an option.


"How do you move everything when it's wet everywhere?" Porter asked. "How do you treat 100 cows? Where do you start?"


The most predominant effect at the moment is getting feed to animals, though much of the hay and silage in the area has also succumbed to the weather, which, according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, is not to be fed.


"Cattle and horses have to walk in that deeper mud. It's takes a lot more energy; some of these areas have been dealing with it for a period of time," he said. "It's hard to get feed to them, it stressed them out, they lose weight, especially if pregnant."


Cattle and swine can tolerate wet conditions better than other animals, however, they can still be affected. Livestock dealing with stressful environmental conditions, barring the physical effects of water on hide, are experiencing further weakening in already weakened body conditions, such as the heart or lungs.


"If they have a preexisting condition, that will show right away, and there could be losses that way. A lot of animals get weak and lay down in the mud and can't get up," Porter said. "If they lose weight, there will be worse breed back. A lot of cows will be open next fall, and if they're older, it's just going to be worse. You can scale that up with age."


The stress can make animals "highly vulnerable to diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea," NDA stated. "Over time, standing in mud and water causes a decrease in an animal's immune system, and ability to resist or fight various diseases."






The current Nebraska cattle loss is roughly about 1 million, and an estimated $400 million impact on the livestock industry and $440 million impact on the crop industry, said Christin Kamm, NDA public information officer. Porter expects there to be far more deaths yet to come.


"Someone might say, 'Well, why is my cow sloughing skin?' Some won't show for a while, and some of those animals that didn't drown will need to be put down too," he said...