Drought 2023: Animal Health Issues

This year's drought brings increased risks now and also this fall, with the potential for feeds to be higher in sulfates and nitrates, and increases the importance of routine vaccinations for ALL classes of livestock.

Drought impacts on beef health

Drought can have a devastating impact on animal health. Minimal rainfall means that the risk of elevated nitrate or sulfate levels in feed is increased, and pasture water quality needs to be monitored for potential sulfate toxicity. Any mortalities occurring on pasture need follow-up, to rule out sulfate toxicity or the presence of poisonous plants.

As part of routine fall work:

All classes of livestock need to have current clostridial vaccinations to prevent diarrhea or blood poisoning.

Feed needs to be tested for sulfates, nitrates, and trace minerals (which may be functionally reduced by high sulfates).


Drought health topics: vaccination

Recently a group of western Canadian animal health experts drafted guidelines for beef cow-calf vaccine use, as well as information on the diseases targeted by commonly used vaccines. This information is available in the form of podcasts, webinars, videos, infographics, disease factsheets, and decision trees. LINK