Vets offer flood advice to prevent livestock losses

Posted: 22 November 2016 at 2:09 pm

With flood warnings in place across the UK, Vets are urging owners to take precautionary measures to protect their livestock after findings from the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey reveal that in areas affected by flooding last winter (2015/16), a third of vets working with livestock or horses had clients who lost stock due to flooding.


Most livestock keepers are well aware of the risks flooding poses to their animals, with rapidly rising water levels able to cut off access to cattle, sheep and horses, or even wash them away, the leading veterinary associations (BVA, SVS, BCVA, BEVA, GVS) are encouraging extra caution if livestock are usually kept near a river. Field flooding can happen suddenly at any time in the days after a deluge of rain. If fields are prone to flooding then where possible it’s advised that owners move their livestock ahead of time to a drier field during the winter months.


The five veterinary organisations are also highlighting that flooded and muddy fields pose health and welfare hazards for cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock, with 23% of vets in last year’s flood-affected areas reporting problems due to animals being cut off from food and a further 27% of vets seeing cases of flood-related lameness. Vets are advising owners to ensure their fields have suitable drainage and an area where animals can stand out of mud and damp. Wet, muddy fields also provide an ideal habitat for the tiny snail involved in the maintenance of the lifecycle of the production limiting liver fluke, a serious parasite which can be fatal to sheep.


After flood water recedes, owners should also be sure to inspect the pastures and streams for potentially hazardous plants or other material that may have been deposited.


Gudrun Ravetz, President of the British Veterinary Association, says: “We know that livestock keepers and farmers are well aware of the risks of flooding. But our survey shows that owners can still get caught out and that livestock can easily be lost to flooding. Thinking ahead and having a contingency in place is a wise move for hand-pushed farmers and we’re encouraging all large animal owners to be vigilant this winter, particularly where there are flood warnings in place.”