What is in this article?:
- Diseases and water toxins can develop quickly in stock tanks and ponds in the hot, dry conditions that have returned to the Southwest.
- Texas AgriLife Extension cattle specialists say bacterial threats like leptospirosis and anaplasmosis and blue-green algae toxins can offer serious risks to animal welfare, often resulting in death.
- “Basically it’s a combination of no rain and extreme heat," one says. "Last year we lost a number of cattle to disease and toxin. It is a good time to starting checking water sources.”
Anaplasmosisis an infectious disease of cattle that causes destruction of red blood cells. The disease is caused by a minute parasite, Anaplasma marginale, found in the red blood cells of infected cattle. It can be transmitted from infected animals to healthy animals by insects or by surgical instruments.It is a disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilu, and is often spread around ponds and other water sources where wildlife and farm animals congregate.
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are present in many Texas waters. Under certain conditions, harmful algal blooms can produce toxins that pose a health risk to people and animals. It favors warm, stagnant water, especially if it’s nutrient-laden, so ponds that collect runoff from farm fields are at higher risk.
“When the cow’s ‘jug of water’ is relatively empty because green forage is disappearing, the risk of heat stress and water-related problems is greater. Water deprivation, water intoxication and water quality can all play a role in animal health during the summer season,” McCollum adds.
He says water deprivation occurs when cattle cannot consume an adequate amount of water. Water is a nutrient just as protein, vitamins and minerals, and reduced water intake can result in reduced performance. Water deprivation can be fatal.
Also, water intoxication occurs when cattle over-consume water, according to McCollum. It usually occurs following a period of reduced water consumption or increased water loss from the body. The cattle are dehydrated and consume an excessive amount of water.
Exposures to bacteria and algae toxins can be reduced by monitoring your tanks and ponds for blue-green algae that might appear as a pale greenish oil scum on the top of the water, except around the edges where it’s more a cobalt blue color.
McCollum says red-blue algae can be treated with copper sulphate, but advises water testing before treatment and warns to follow directions carefully.
“The other thing I might say is to watch for dead birds or other wildlife around your water sources as an early indication something is wrong. Not just livestock but all animals can be poisoned or diseased from toxic water.