Don’t Forget Botulism – the other side of the mouse plague crisis
As farmers battle the ongoing mice plague, Elders Beaudesert branch manager Mark Meldrum urges livestock producers not to forget the risks of Botulism within stored stockfeed.
“With the increase in rodent activity we have already seen mice moving into hay sheds and feed storage facilities such as silage,” Mr Meldrum said.
“The onset of the colder weather will only increase this as they look for warmer areas to nest and breed.
“So, logically, you will also have mice dying in these areas, which coupled with the warm and moist conditions in these nests, seriously increases the risk for Botulism spread to the surrounding area.”
Botulism is a disease caused by the Clostridium botulinum bacterium, with spores able to withstand a range of environmental conditions and survive for long periods of time. Contamination of stock feed can occur when animals such as rodents die within the sheds and storage areas, allowing the bacteria to thrive in decaying animal tissue.
Cattle and sheep of all ages are susceptible to botulism, which is characterised by a progressive muscle weakness (paralysis). Affected animals may be weak, stumbling, or have collapsed without the ability to stand, depending on the progress of the disease throughout their system.
In most cases the disease is fatal, although some animals may recover with careful treatment.
Senior Technical Vet Manager for vaccine supplier Zoetis, Lee Taylor, said vaccinating was an important step in managing the risks of Botulism contamination.
“Livestock producers should be including a reliable Botulinum vaccine in their annual vaccine programs,” Dr Taylor said.
“For example, using a product like Longrange Botulinum vaccine will provide protection against both C.botulinum Type C and Type D cattle in only one application.
“It’s a simple step when you consider the alternative.
“By getting ahead of any potential risks from contaminated feed, producers can be sure their livestock are protected.”