Cows are a great addition to have on your lifestyle farm. They are gentle, relatively self-feeding and provide a great supply of food and milk, but the also require a considerable amount of care and can be prone to a number of diseases.

Grass Staggershighland cattle

Grass Staggers occurs when the intake of magnesium is exceeded by its output. It is common in spring due to an increased requirement of magnesium for lactation and the decreased magnesium content of lush green pasture. Grass staggers is not just restricted to the first few days of lactation. As with all metabolic conditions, it is important to act fast. Contact Franklin Vets immediately if you notice the following symptoms

  • Hyper-excitability and restlessness
  • Unsteadiness and lack of coordination
  • Over-alert appearance.


Facial Eczema

Facial Eczema is caused by fungal spores that occur on pasture during warm moist conditions, usually late summer to autumn. When ingested these spores release a toxin which damages the liver and causes secondary skin damage. There are many symptoms of facial eczema including

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Irrational to the skin which could lead to raw wounds

Prevention is key and there is no cure for this disease. Franklin Vets was asked to assist in a Dairy NZ and Sustainable Farming Fund Trial looking into on-farm zinc supplementation practices in the region. All herds should consider zinc testing as an effective assurance of their FE control programme.

Pink Eye

Pink eye can occur in cattle of all ages. There are a number of seasonal environmental factors that contribute-wind, dust, strong sunlight and stalky vegetation. Franklin Vets offers a vaccination, antibiotic treatment and cornea surgery where necessary. Piliguard Pinkeye Trivalent is a single shot vaccine. It works by helping to develop and maintain immunity by generating antibodies against M. Bovis in the animal’s blood and tears. This helps prevent the bacteria attaching to the eye.

Affected animals should be shifted to a safe pasture or given supplementary feed.

Vaccinate dairy beef calves on arrival. The best time to vaccinate is 3-6 weeks before the onset of the pink eye season. The vaccine cannot guarantee 100 percent protection so it is important to treat and quarantine all clinical cases promptly. Outbreaks can be treated with antibiotics and where the cornea has ulcerated, we can surgically construct a flap over the ulcer to protect and hasten healing.

Both the vaccine and antibiotics used in treatment are prescription animal remedies. As farm systems and animal health requirements vary, please contact one of our veterinarians if you would like to discuss a management programme for the prevention of pink eye in your cattle.

Ticks and Parasite Control

Ticks are most commonly seen in large numbers on livestock during the warmer months of the year. There are several different products available which should be used once ticks are visible or animals are rubbing. Franklin Vets recommends Bayticol for tick control.

Franklin Vets stock a wide range of combination products either as an oral, injectable or pour-on for Cooperia and Ostertagia parasites. Talk to us about drenching, timing and a treatment regime for your farm.

Milk Fever

Milk Fever is the most common metabolic condition that usually occurs around three days either side of calving. In the early lactation stages a high producing cow’s calcium requirements exceed her ability to mobilise calcium reserves (bones) and absorb enough calcium from the diet. Milk fever may be seen in cows of any age but it is more common in high producing dairy cows over five years of age.

Please contact you nearest Franklin Vets if you notice any of the following problems

  • Staggering
  • Lying down with head and neck kinked back
  • Tremors
  • Hypothermia
  • Constipation

Act immediately. If left untreated cows will die due to circulatory collapse and respiratory failure.

Ryegrass Staggers

Ryegrass staggers occurs when animals grazing perennial ryegrass eat large amounts of a toxin produced by ryegrass endophyte, a fungus that grows inside the plant. It occurs in sheep, cattle, deer and horses and the signs are usually seen when animals are disturbed and forced to move.

  • Head nodding and jerky limb movements in sheep and cattle
  • Nervousness and loss of balance in horses
  • Head and neck tremors in Alpacas

After a while the animal recovers. Deaths tend to be accidental following injury such as drowning after a fall into water or being caught in fences.

Affected animals should be shifted to a safe pasture or given supplementary feed.

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Calf Scours

Calf scours can be divided into two groups: nutritional and infectious. Nutritional scours is often caused by poor quality milk or sudden changes to milk formulas. Milk that is too hot or too cold can also lead to diarrhea or bloat. Nutritional scourers is identified by white or yellow sticky runny faeces.

Infectious scours are more common in young calves. Faeces can be watery and brown or yellow. Calves will become very dehydrated which can lead to sunken eyes. Severely affected animals are weak and lethargic.

Scouring animals can die from dehydration so it is important to act fast. Keep sick animals isolated, dry and warm. Administer quality electrolyte feeds such as Diarrest or Revive.

Colostrum is the biggest preventative measure. Calves requires 4 litres of fresh colostrum from a newly calved cow during the first twelve hours of life.