The prolonged dry spell followed by the recent wet weather has created ideal conditions for lungworms or hoose in livestock.
Lungworms is a respiratory disease, so if coughing can be heard in heifers or youngstock then taking dung samples for the identification of lungworm larvae and consultation with a vet is warranted.
Depending on the results of the lung samples or the advice of your vet, treatment may be required.
Some of the signs of lungworm are as follows:
Mildly affected animals will have an intermittent cough, especially after exercise;
Moderately affected animals will cough frequently while resting and have an increased respiratory rate;
Severely affected animals will have difficulty breathing and may adopt a mouth-breathing stance with the head and neck out-stretched, mouth open and the tongue protruding;
Lung damage can be severe and some of the pathology is irreversible, so deterioration of clinical cases and mortality can occur despite successful removal of the worms with an anthelmintic;
Adult cows may also have a severe drop in milk yield. This can be observed before coughing is seen;
Affected cattle have an increased susceptibility to other respiratory pathogens such as viruses and bacteria.
According to Animal Health Ireland (AHI), the clinical signs of infection in cattle include coughing and difficulty breathing, especially when animals are being moved.
The disease is commonly described as ‘parasitic bronchitis’ and is also commonly known as hoose. It can result in death where serious infections occurs.
As deaths from hoose can occur with very little warning and at various times of the year, it is essential that farmers consult their veterinary practitioner when drawing up a parasite control programme.
Because lungworms can impact on animal performance, treatment should be carried out as quickly as possible.
However, it is important to not treat animals that do not require treatment as this is wasteful, expensive and aids anti-parasitic resistance.
To ensure that treatment is only given to animals that require it, you should consult with your vet before treating animals.
Lungworms may be an issue in your youngstock, but it could potentially be a number of other issues.
So, to ensure that you treat animals correctly consultation with your vet is advised.