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close this bookBetter Farming Series 09 - Animal Husbandry: Animal Diseases; How Animals Reproduce (FAO - INADES, 1976, 33 p.)
close this folderAnimal health
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View the documentInjuries
View the documentParasites
Open this folder and view contentsDiseases


A man is sometimes ill.
Animals too can fall ill.
When an animal is ill, it becomes thin, and may even die.
Then the farmer loses a lot of money.


Signs of good health

Signs of illness

(food appetite

No appetite

Very restless or too quiet
Sensitive back, cold ears, fever

Bright eyes

Dull eyes

Shiny coat

Dry, brittle coat

Growing well

Losing weight

An animal may be injured, may have parasites, may have a disease.


Pay great attention to animal injuries.

If you see an animal walking with difficulty (limping), or bleeding after a fight with another animal, or which has hurt itself, do not wait to treat it.

If you wait, the wound will become worse, it will become infected.

An infected wound is slow to heal; it may prevent the animal from walking, from going to the pasture, from working, from giving milk. An animal in pain produces less.

· Find out why the animal is injured.

Has it a thorn in its foot?
Has a piece of wood or iron torn its skin ?
Has a rope, collar or yoke rubbed, or been too tight?
Is there a vicious animal in the herd?
When you have found out why the animal is injured, you must get rid of the cause of the injury. If it is a working animal, do not make it work; it is better to lose a few days' work than to lose the animal.

· Treat the wound.

Wash the wound with warm water in which you have put something to prevent the wound from getting infected.

You can use soap or a chemical product such as permanganate of potash or cresol.

Wash the wound often. A wound that is always kept clean heals quickly.


Parasites are little animals that live on the skin or in the body of other animals.


· Ticks

Ticks stick to the animal's skin and suck its blood.
If an animal has many ticks, it can lose a lot of blood.
After a time, it will become very weak.
Kill ticks with chemicals such as DDT or BCH.

· Mange or scab

The parasite makes little holes under the skin and lays its eggs there.
If an animal has many parasites, it scratches a great deal.
Treat mange with products containing sulphur.
Skin parasites injure animals.
The animals become restless, they walk with difficulty, they eat little.
Skin parasites can carry many serious diseases.


· Usually they live in the digestive tract., For example, worms such as tapeworm and ascarid. They damage the digestive tract and prevent animals from digesting their food. Animals with worms get thin and sometimes die.

To kill these parasites, give the animals a medicine to drink, such as phenothiazine. You can also use some traditional medicines.

· Parasites also get into the liver. The animal does not digest well. Give it a medicine to kill the parasites.

· Parasites also live in the muscles. The animal has difficulty in walking. It has fever. An example is the trichinella of pigs.

· Parasites can live in the lungs. The animal has difficulty in breathing. It has broncho- pneumonia.

· Parasites even attack the brain. The animal turns round and round. This is the gid or sturdy of sheep. The animal dies.

The treatment for parasites often has to be repeated. The agricultural service will tell you what medicines to use.

With the digestive tract animals and people digest and absorb food and reject the waste matter.

A good way of controlling parasites is to let pastures rest.

Why is this?

The eggs of parasites fall on to the pasture in the animals' droppings.

The eggs develop in the grass.

Then they may stick to the animals' skin or be eaten with the grass, for instance, ticks and worms.

If you let the pasture rest long enough, the parasites cannot feed on the animals' skin, or live inside the animals, and they die.

So in order to control parasites, let the pastures rest. Do not put the animals always in the same pasture.

· Pay attention to the animals' wafer.

Dirty water contains many parasites. Give the animals clean water to drink.

· Clean the animals' housing.

On the floor and walls put a disinfectant that will kill parasites (see Booklet No. 8, page 36).


Besides parasites that live on animals' skin or in their bodies, there are many diseases which prevent animals from growing and which may even kill them.

In the animal husbandry courses on chickens, cattle, sheep and goats, we shall deal with the diseases which each kind of animal may have:

· Diseases due to germs, such as anthrax, rinderpest, pox, pneumonia.
· Diseases due to bad feeding through lack of mineral salts (see Booklet No. 8, page 17).

An animal that is badly fed, badly housed, badly looked after, resists disease badly. It is often ill.

For animals to resist disease, a good farmer must: feed them well (see Booklet No. 8, page 10); give them clean water to drink (see Booklet No. 8, page 18); house them well (see Booklet No. 8, page 34); treat their wounds (see page 5).

A good way of controlling diseases is to protect the animals by vaccination.


A child is vaccinated before it is ill in order to prevent it becoming ill.
An animal should be vaccinated before it is ill, to prevent it becoming ill.
Vaccination tires animals a little, but it is not dangerous if the animals are well housed and well fed.

For example:

Chickens are vaccinated for fowl diphtheria, fowl cholera, fowl pest.
Cows are vaccinated for pneumonia and anthrax.
Pigs are vaccinated for anthrax and swine erysipelas.
Sheep are vaccinated for anthrax and foot- and- mouth disease.
You must take all the animals to be vaccinated.
Usually vaccination is compulsory and free of charge.
If all farmers do not take their animals to be vaccinated, the animals which have not been vaccinated may catch the disease. Then the disease remains in the district.

Looking after ill animals

To look after ill animals, you must:

· Go and see the veterinary surgeon.
When a man is ill, he goes to the doctor.
When an animal is ill, ask advice from the veterinary assistant or the veterinary surgeon.
The assistant will tell you what medicine to give the animal.

· Keep the animal alone, by itself.
Because of the danger of infecting other animals.
There are two kinds of disease:

· contagious diseases
These are diseases which can pass from one animal to another.
If one animal in a herd is ill, it can give this disease to all the other animals. For example, rinderpest and anthrax are contagious diseases.

· non- contagious diseases

These are diseases which do not pass from one animal to another. If one animal is ill with such a disease, this disease is no danger to the other animals.

When an animal has a contagious disease it must be kept alone by itself.

Do not leave it with the rest of the herd. In this way you keep the disease away from the whole herd.

You must not eat the meat of animals which have died from certain contagious diseases such as tuberculosis. This disease can pass from animals to people.

You must not let your herd mix with strange herds travelling through, especially if they come from far away. Passing herds can bring diseases with them.

Do not put in your herd an animal you have bought, or which comes from elsewhere, unless you are sure it has been vaccinated. The animal may bring disease to all the herd.

To make a country's animal husbandry modern, veterinary services are necessary. All farmers should follow the advice of these services.

· Remember that a good way of controlling diseases is to give pastures a period of rest.