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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
close this folderAnimal husbandry and dairying
View the documentSelection and breeding of cattle buffaloes
View the documentSelection and breeding of goats and sheep
View the documentSelection and breeding of swine
View the documentCommunity pasture management
View the documentCattle feeding
View the documentMake hay to preserve fodder
View the documentMake silage to preserve green fodder
View the documentImprove dry fodder by adding urea
View the documentUrea-molasses liquid mixture
View the documentUrea-molasses-mineral lick
View the documentClean milk production
View the documentLivestock diseases
View the documentCommon maladies in cattle
View the documentProtect your cattle from poisoning
View the documentAdaptation of livestock

Common maladies in cattle

The most important factor adversely affecting animal production and reproduction is disease. This leads to economic losses and setbacks. Timely recognition and prevention of disease is, therefore, necessary. For this, a greater knowledge of different types of diseases is required. Many animal diseases are environmentally induced. Here are some of the important environmentally induced diseases, and how to recognize and prevent them.

Diseases caused by unfavourable weather

Heat stroke

This happens when the external temperature is very high (over 40° C), and animals are kept outside either working or grazing. It can also be caused by overcrowding in badly ventilated shelters. This is especially true for poultry. Asbestos sheet and tin roofs tend to get overheated in very hot weather.


Initially, animals pant and search for water; their body temperature goes up very high; then they have trouble breathing, stop urinating, collapse, and in severe cases, die.


Do not allow animals to work or graze during the day in summer when it is very hot. Work and graze animals during early mornings or late evenings. Allow animals access to plenty of water, salt, and shade. Avoid overcrowding of animals in shelters. Design animal houses so ventilation is adequate in hot weather. Insulate roofs with straw or other agricultural residue to prevent overheating. Allow buffaloes to wallow.


When the animal's temperature goes very high, cool the animal with packs made by soaking strips of cloth in cold water. Give the animal plenty of fluids to drink, such as tamarind juice, sugar cane juice and coconut water. Or, make oral rehydration drink by mixing 4-5 teaspoons of sugar and l/4 teaspoon of salt in each litre of water. Move the animal to comfortable surroundings with plenty of shade and ventilation.

Treat heat stroke by cooling the animal.

Make oral rehydration drink of sugar, salt, sad water.

Threat heat stroke by cooling animal

Make oral rehydration drink

Coughs and colds

Extremely cold weather or a combination of cold and wet weather can lead to various disease conditions, the simplest of which are coughs and colds. This lowers the resistance of animals and makes them susceptible to more serious conditions such as haemorrhagic septicemia and ephemeral fever (or threeday sickness).

Avoid exposing animals to cold wind and rain.

Cover chilled animals.

Rub the animal's cheat with turpentine liniment, eucalyptus oil or camphorated oil. Allow it to inhale vapors from a bucket of hot water, to which a little eucalyptus oil has been added.


Shivering, discharge from nose and eyes, coughing, possibly accompanied by high fever. The animals huddle together, and are very slow to move.


Avoid exposing animals to cold wind and rain. Provide adequate and comfortable animal houses, and dry bedding in wet and cold weather.


Make surroundings comfortable. Rub wet animals dry. Rub chest with turpentine liniment, camphorated oil, or eucalyptus oil. Give animals nourishing, warm food-like gruel made of wheat, finger millet, or pearl millet flour with lots of brown sugar. If animals do not show signs of improvement in 12 hours, seek professional help.

Diseases caused by unhygienic surroundings

Unclean surroundings with dirt, spoiling and rotting garbage, polluted water sources, and overcrowding can lead to many disease conditions. Most of these conditions are infectious, i.e., they can spread rapidly from one animal to another and cause many animals to be sick at the same time. Some common examples:

- Unclean milking habits lead to mastitis.

- Unclean wounds, cuts, and sores can lead to tetanus, black leg, and even anthrax.

- Unclean food can lead to flukes and worms in the digestive tract, as well as many other digestive problems, such as diarrhoea and vomiting.

- Unhygienic surroundings also make conditions favourable for the breeding of ticks and mites. These external parasites transmit many diseases, such as filariasis, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis which infect the blood and can eventually lead to death of the animal.


- Animal houses must be kept clean. They must be cleared of dung and urine twice a day and washed well at least once a day. Dung and urine transmit many diseases. Efficient and quick utilization of dung and urine prevents germs, worms, and other organisms from infecting other animals.

Keep animal housing clean.

Similarly, discharges from animals like nasal discharge, placenta and vaginal discharges can carry infection. These should be washed out of animal houses and buried. Bedding and straw on which sick animals sit can spread infection. These should be burned so they cannot contaminate the food supply of other animals.

Animal houses should be regularly inspected for ticks, lice, and fleas. These parasites usually lay eggs in corners, nooks, and crevices. It is a good practice to fumigate animal houses with neem or tobacco leaves once in two or four weeks, depending on the severity of infection. Remove animals from the shelter when fumigating.

Mosquitoes and flies breed in stagnant pools of water or accumulated garbage heaps. Avoid unnecessary accumulation of water and garbage; make a soak pit for water and a manure heap for organic waste.

Humans often carry infection from one animal to another. Always wash your hands after attending to animals which are sick. It is also a good practice to wash your hands after milking one cow, before milking the next.

In some areas, people and animals live in the same room. This can cause diseases to be transmitted from humans to animals and from animals to humans. As far as possible, keep rooms for animals and humans separate.

Unclean cuts, wounds, and sores can lead to very dangerous conditions, such as tetanus. When animals get hurt, wash the wound well and cover with a clean, dry cloth. Prevent flies from sitting on wounds by applying locally available fly repellents, such as neem oil or camphor.

Make sure all food and water fed to animals are clean. Food meant for animal consumption must be fresh and should not have fungus. As far as possible, ensure a clean source of drinking water for your animals. Many diseases are spread through unclean drinking water.

Washing hands

If animals go out to graze every day, deworm them regularly, at least twice a year. Calves up to the age of six months should be dewormed once a month. There are many commercial deworming preparations as well as many local remedies, including decoctions of neem leaves, areca nut powder, papaya seeds, and custard apple seeds. A decoction is prepared by soaking some of the dewormer in hot water.

If possible, isolate your sick animals from other animals in order to prevent the spread of disease.

Isolate sick animals.