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Chapter 3: Cattle, sheep, goats and buffalo

Unit 7: Ruminants
Unit 8: Bloat (tympany)
Unit 9: How to age sheep, goats, cattle and buffalo
Unit 10: Restraining cattle and buffalo
Unit 11: Foot (hoof) care
Unit 12: Shearing and dagging (crutching)
Unit 13: Dehorning calves, lambs and kids
Unit 14: Castration of ruminants
Unit 15: Internal parasites of ruminants
Unit 16: External parasites of ruminants
Unit 17: Signs of heat (oestrus) in ruminants
Unit 18: Pregnancy in ruminants
Unit 19: Calving (parturition)
Unit 20: Lambing and kidding (parturition)
Unit 21: Care of the newborn
Unit 22: Milk production and the udder
Unit 23: Feed and water for ruminants
Unit 24: Grazing management
Unit 25: Cattle plague (rinderpest) and foot and mouth disease

Unit 7: Ruminants

Animals carnivore, omnivore and herbivores

Learning objective

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What are the animal groups.
2 What is the rumen.
3 What makes the ruminant different.
4 Why animals chew the cud (ruminate).

Who eats what

Animals are divided into three groups:

· Carnivores which eat meat,

e.g. dog, lion

· Omnivores which eat meet end plants,

e.g. pig

· Herbivores which eat plants

e.g. cow, horse

The digestive system of omnivores and carnivores is as described in Unit 3. In herbivores the digestive system is very large because they eat large amounts of grass.

· The horse, donkey and mule are herbivores but do not chew the cud. They are non-ruminants.

· Cattle, goats, sheep and buffalo chew the cud. They are ruminants.

The rumen (stomach)

The stomach of a ruminant has four chambers. The first chamber is very large and is called the rumen. The second chamber is the reticulum (honeycomb). The third is the omasum (book) and the fourth is the abomasum (the true stomach). The ruminant chews grass and swallows and it goes into the rumen.

The rumen (stomach)

When the ruminant has finished eating, the food is brought back up and rechewed. This is called chewing the cud or rumination. If the animal stops ruminating this is a sign of ill health.

Ruminants make a lot of gas in their stomachs and belch once every minute, (unlike people they belch silently). If the belching stops the stomach swells with gas. We call this bloat or tympany (Unit 8).

Rumen movement

The rumen moves regularly and contracts about once every minute. By putting your fist on the left flank (in the hollow behind the ribs) you will be able to detect the contractions. Regular contractions are a sign of good health.

Rumen movement

Nails and wires in the rumen

Because ruminants eat quickly they can swallow objects like nails and wires with their feed. These objects can damage the rumen and can pass through the wall of the rumen into the heart and kill the animal.

You should tell your community to keep nails, wires and similar objects away from animal feed and pasture.

Unit 8: Bloat (tympany)

Bloat occurs when too much gas is produced in the rumen.
The left flank becomes distended and breathing becomes difficult.
This may happen suddenly, especially when the animal is grazing on wet pasture in the morning.
It may cause sudden death.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is bloat (tympany).
2 What causes bloat in the ruminant.
3 How to prevent bloat.
4 How to treat the animal with bloat.

What is bloat (tympany)?

In Unit 7 you learned that the stomach of ruminant animals produces a lot of gas. The animals continually belch, once each minute, to get rid of the gas. Occasionally belching stops and gas builds up in the rumen to cause bloat.

As the gas builds up the left flank balloons out. The pain from this causes the animal to try to kick its belly or it stands with its back legs wide apart. It has difficulty in breathing.

What is bloat

The animal may be in distress for several hours but in bad cases of bloat the animal will be found lying on its side and death can occur in a few hours.

Causes of bloat

Bloat can occur when the animal grazes on lush young pasture, particularly if the pasture is wet. Some plants, e.g. clover, lucerne and alfalfa are especially dangerous in causing bloat but any fast growing plants can cause it.

Sometimes ruminants kept by the household and fed only feed such as dry bread can develop bloat.

Preventing bloat

· Avoid moving animals to wet pasture, especially first thing in the morning.

· Do not allow very hungry animals to graze a pasture. Offer dry, cut grass first before turning out to graze.

· Keep a watch on animals at pasture.


Making the animal belch is one way of treating bloat. You can do this by:

· Massaging the distended rumen through the abdominal wall.
· Tying a stick in the mouth, crosswise like a horse's bit.
· Tickling the throat.
· Make the animal walk around for about half an hour.

If these methods fail then give a drench (drink) to the animal (see Drenching Annex 3). The drench used can be one of the following:

· Two large spoons of washing up liquid, e.g. Fairy, Lux.
· A solution of sodium bicarbonate (cooking or baking soda) and water.
· A small amount of kerosene (paraffin) in warm milk.
· A small bottle of peanut, soya or linseed oil.
· A very small amount of turpentine in either linseed oil, soya oil or peanut oil.
· Use a commercially, available medicine (see R20, Annex 1).

In severe cases the animal may not belch and it will die. In such cases puncturing the left flank with a sharp knife or trocar and cannula to release the gas is necessary, it will be necessary for you to act quickly as any hesitation could lead to the death of the animal.


Sometimes tympany occurs because large pieces of feed block the gullet (oesophagus). If this happens try to massage the neck to remove the blockage.

Unit 9: How to age sheep, goats, cattle and buffalo

The age of animals can be determined by examination of the front teeth.
You will not be able to determine the exact age, especially in older animals.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 How to hold animals to check the teeth.
2 The difference between the temporary (milk) teeth and the permanent teeth.
3 How to age sheep, goats, cattle and buffalo.

How to hold (restrain) the animals to check their teeth

How to hold sheep and goat to check their teeth

How to hold cattle and buffalo to check their teeth

Temporary (milk) and permanent teeth

Young animals, like children, have temporary or milk teeth which will be replaced by permanent teeth.

Young ruminants have 20 temporary teeth, adult ruminants have 32 permanent teeth.

Temporary (milk) teeth:

Upper jaw

No front teeth

6 back teeth

Lower jaw

8 front teeth

6 beck teeth

Permanent teeth:

Upper jaw

No front teeth

12 back teeth

Lower jaw

8 front teeth

12 back teeth

Remember that you will not be able to determine the exact age of the animal from its teeth, but there will be a few months either way.

You should develop the habit of regularly checking the teeth (not just for age) because bad or worn teeth will stop an animal eating or chewing the cud. Such an animal is of no use.

Age of goats and sheep

(1) Animal under one year old (no permanent teeth)
(2) One year old (2 permanent teeth)
(3) Two years old (4 permanent teeth)
(4) Three years old (6 permanent teeth)
(5) Four years old (8 permanent teeth)
(6) Old animal, more than four years old

Age of goats and sheep

Age of cattle

(1) Under two years old (No permanent teeth)
(2) Two years three months (2 permanent teeth)
(3) Three years old (4 permanent teeth)
(4) Three years six months (6 permanent teeth)
(5) Four years (8 permanent teeth)
(6) Old animal, over four years old.

Age of cattle

Age of buffalo

(1) Under three years old (no permanent teeth)
(2) Two years six months (2 permanent teeth)
(3) Three years six months (4 permanent teeth)
(4) Four years six months (6 permanent teeth)
(5) Five to six years (8 permanent teeth)
(6) Old animal

Age of buffalo

Unit 10: Restraining cattle and buffalo

Handling cattle and buffalo may lead to stress and injuries especially if the animals are not used to being handled and the handler is not experienced.

There are different techniques used to restrain and cast (throw) these large ruminants.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 How to hold cattle and buffalo.
2 How to safely use the halter.
3 How to cast (throw) the animals with ropes.

Restraining (controlling) large ruminants

The crush or race is made of wood or metal. You should have one in your village or settlement, if not you should talk to the elders of the community about making one with the help of a veterinarian. Crushes are used for large ruminants when they are vaccinated, examined or undergo other treatments.

How to hold animals

If you do not have a halter or a nose holder the best way to hold a large ruminant is to take a firm grip of the nostril using the thumb and forefinger of one hand while holding the horn or the ear with the other hand.

How to hold animals

Haltering large ruminants (cattle and buffalo)

Animals need to be halter-trained and this is best done when they are young so that they are accustomed to the halter. When a halter is used on an animal talk to the animal to encourage it to move. Hold the halter no more than 20 cm from the animals cheek and walk close to its neck.

Haltering large ruminants (cattle and buffalo)

Casting or throwing cattle and buffalo

If you do not have a crush and you want to trim the hooves of an animal it will be necessary for you to cast (throw down) the animal.

To do this you will need:

· A halter for the head.
· Two people to help you.
· Ten to twelve metres of strong rope.
· A place where it is safe to throw the animal, where the soil is soft or covered with straw.

First halter the animal then tie the long rope around it as shown in the illustration below. Have one person to hold the halter while the other joins you and pulls the rope. The animal will collapse onto the floor and your helper must immediately put his knee on its neck and his hand on the animal's head to prevent it from rising.

Do not leave the animal down for a long time as bloat may develop.

Casting or throwing cattle and buffalo

Remember when casting animals that both the animal and people can get injured so try to do it safely.

Unit 11: Foot (hoof) care

There is an old saying "No foot, no animal". This is true as untrimmed feet lead to bad legs and the animal cannot graze properly and will lose condition.

The feet should be regularly examined and trimmed.

Remember to make any cuts in a direction away from your body or the hand holding the foot.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 Why overgrown feet are bad.
2 How to hold or cast animals in order for the feet to be trimmed.
3 How much of the foot (hoof) can be removed.

Overgrown feet

The hoof is like your fingernail and grows continuously. Walking wears the hoof down but sometimes the hoof grows very quickly and becomes overgrown. In some places where the ground is too wet the foot can get infected and it becomes smelly and painful. This condition is called foot rot and the animal can become lame.

When animals have infected or overgrown feet they cannot walk and graze properly. The male cannot mount the female and is useless.

How to hold or cast animals in order to trim the feet

You can trim the feet of sheep and goats alone or with someone to help you. Grasp the wool or hair on the chest with one hand while holding the animal on its flank with the other hand. Use your knee to push against the animal's back and force it into a sitting position. The animal can be kept in this position for a long time while the feet are trimmed.

How to hold or cast animals in order to trim the feet

In order to trim the feet of cattle or buffalo you will need to cast the animal (see Unit 10). The leg may be lifted and tied as shown.

How to hold or cast animals in order to trim the feet

Trimming the feet

You will need any suitable sharp tool such as a knife, hoof cutter large carpenter's rasp, or sharp carpenter's pincers.

Cut the overgrown claw of the hoof by carefully taking off a little at a time. STOP if bleeding occurs. Do not cut down too far. Like your fingernail the hoof has a sensitive area which if cut into will become painful and infected. STOP if the foot (sole) springs back when pushed with the thumb. When you have cut the hoof down use a rasp, if you have one, to file and neaten the edge of the hoof.

Trimming the feet

If the foot is infected and wet and smelly you should carefully remove the damaged areas so that the infected area is exposed to the air. The infected area should then be painted with tincture of iodine or formalin (see R4, Annex 1). Repeat the treatment every 2 days.

Remember to use whatever tools you can and look after the animals' feet. If you regularly check the feet and keep them trimmed you will not have any problems. If you have sheep, and there is a lot of foot rot in your area, ask your veterinary service for ad vice and a vaccine against foot rot.

Unit 12: Shearing and dagging (crutching)

Woolly sheep naturally lose their coats in the warmer months so before this happens we shear the sheep in order to take the wool for a variety of uses.

If the wool becomes dirty with dung and wet it attracts flies which lay eggs in the wool. The eggs develop into maggots which feed on flesh of the sheep.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you will know:

1 Why we shear sheep.
2 What is dagging (crutching).
3 What happens if we do not dag or cheer the animal.

Why do we shear sheep?

Wooly sheep must be sheared at certain times of the year. If we do not shear them the wool or hair will be lost in patches and a valuable material will be lost.

Dagging (crutching)

Dagging or crutching is the cutting away of dirty, wet wool from around the tail and anus (crutch) of the sheep. The wet, dirty wool attracts flies especially the blow flies (bright green or blue in colour). The flies lay their eggs on the wool and in one or two days maggots hatch from them. The maggots burrow into the skin and feed on the flesh of the sheep. The animal will be smelly, nervous, stamping its feet and wriggling its tail.

Maggots must be removed from an infected sheep. Part the wool and look for the small holes where the maggots have entered the skin. Press all round the hole with your fingers and the maggots will come out. Many maggots of different sizes will emerge. Clean the wound (Unit 73) with tincture of iodine or gentian violet (see R1, Annex 1).



Shearing is the complete removal of the wool and is carried out using machine or hand shears. The valuable wool can then be used for clothing, carpets etc. Make sure that the wool is kept clean by not using too much marker paints on the animal and if it is your custom to wash your animals before shearing make sure that you wash them three or four days before shearing. After shearing keep the sacks of wool in a dry place on plastic sheets to stop them getting damp.

If the animal is cut during shearing treat all wounds immediately with tincture of iodine or gentian violet (see R1, Annex 1).

If you have the means to dip your sheep do it immediately after shearing.

Unit 13: Dehorning calves, lambs and kids

Animals which have been dehorned are quiet and do not fight and cause injury to others.

The best time to remove the horns (disbudding) is when the animals are less than one week old.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you will know:

1 Why we dehorn animals.
2 What tools we need to carry out disbudding.
3 How to dehorn animals.

Why do we remove the horns?

Removing the horns from the animal means that:

· There is less chance of it injuring other animals.
· There is less risk of injury to people.
· An animal without horns needs less space at the feeding troughs.

The horns are best removed when still buds (buttons) on the animal which is less than one week old. This is called disbudding.

The tools used to disbud animals

To dehorn an animal you will need a dehorning iron which can be heated by electricity or over a direct flame. The end of the iron is round and hollow and will fit over the bud of the horn. Using a hot iron is better than using caustic soda to remove the buds.

The tools used to disbud animals

You may have an iron, but if you do not, ask a blacksmith to make one for you.

To test the iron heat it until hot and then hold the end against a block of wood. A complete, even ring should be burned into the wood. You will need to test the iron each time you use it to make sure it is hot enough.


You will need someone to help you. Take care with the hot iron.

· Restrain the animal. Your helper must hold its head and pull the ear nearest the bud you are going to remove, down and away from the bud. He must hold the head very still.

· Cut the hair away from around the bud of the horn.

· Test the hot iron and when ready put the iron over the bud and twist it around for about 10 seconds. Continue until the bud feels loose, reheating the iron if necessary.

· Push the bud out by pressing with the iron.

Unit 14: Castration of ruminants

Castration is the destruction or removal of the testicles of the male. It is carried out on animals which are not wanted for breeding.

Castrated animals are quiet (do not fight).

Some countries insist on all imported animals being castrated.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you will know:

1 Why we castrate animals.
2 When we castrate animals.
3 The way animals are controlled for castration.
4 How to castrate with a knife.
5 How to castrate with a Burdizzo.
6 How to castrate with rubber bands.

Why do we castrate animals?

Traditionally farmers or animal raisers do not castrate animals and both males and females are allowed to mix together. The result is that poor males (see Annex 4) are allowed to mate with the females and the young stock produced are not very good. Uncastrated males also fight so it is better to castrate the animals which are not the best for breeding.

When do we castrate animals?

The best time to castrate animals is when they are very young (a few days old). If castration is carried out then, the operation is easier and more successful and the wound heals (gets better) very quickly.

Holding and controlling animals for castration

You will need another person to help you. It is best to put young lambs and kids on a table covered with sacks. Calves can be castrated when they are standing but the animal must be restrained very well.

Holding and controlling animals for castration

Castration with a knife (blood)

Use a very sharp knife, razor or scalpel.

· Check that the knife, razor or scalpel is very sharp and clean. Clean the blade with a disinfectant such as alcohol, iodine, Dettol or gentian violet.

· Use warm water and soap to wipe the scrotum and wash your hands.

· Cut the bottom end of the scrotum. Squeeze the testicle above the cut end of the scrotum and it will come out.

· Pull each testicle out as far as possible, twist the testicular cord around several times. Cut the cord in cattle and buffalo by scraping the knife slowly up and down. Pull to sever the cord in lambs and kids.

· Do not put your fingers inside the open scrotum. Put either tincture of iodine, gentian violet, Dettol or antibiotic powder (R1, R5, R8 Annex 1) on the wound.

Castration with Burdizzo (no blood)

The Burdizzo should be used on the young animal. There are Burdizzos for animals of different sizes. You should always remember that the Burdizzo is a valuable instrument and keep it clean and oiled. Do not drop it.

To castrate with the burdizzo:

· Feel the scrotum with your hand and you will feel the two rope-like testicular cords inside.

· Take the Burdizzo in your right hand and with your left hand push the cord to the side between the jaws of the Burdizzo and squeeze hard.

· Now take the Burdizzo in the left hand and crush the other cord.

Castration with Burdizzo

Castration with rubber rings

To castrate with rubber rings we use a tool called an elastrator. It can only be used to castrate ruminants which are a few days old.

· Put a rubber ring around the four teeth of the elastrator and squeeze the handle. The rubber ring will be stretched open.

· Pass the scrotum of the animal through the ring making sure that it goes over the two testicles.

· Release the elastrator and the rubber ring will tighten over the cords. After two weeks the scrotum will fall off

Castration with rubber rings

Check all animals which have been recently castrated for signs of infection.

Unit 15: Internal parasites of ruminants

Small worms can infect sheep, cattle, goats and buffalo, and live in the animal's gut, lungs, liver and blood.

These worms are called parasites and the animal they live in is called the host. The parasite feeds off the host which becomes weak, loses weight, develops disease and can die.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is a parasite.
2 How animals become infected.
3 The problems caused by parasites.
4 How to control parasites.

What is a parasite?

A parasite lives in or on another animal and feeds on it. All animals and humans can become infected with parasites. Ruminants can be infected with several types of worms.

Roundworms are small, often white in colour, and look like threads. Different roundworms are found in all parts of the gut and the lungs.

Tapeworms are long, and flat and look like white ribbons. They consist of many segments and live in the intestine.

Flukes are flat and leaf-like, they live in the liver. Schistosomes are small and worm-like, both infect animals kept on wet, marshy ground as their eggs develop in water.


How do animals become infected with parasites?

The roundworms, flukes and schistosomes lay eggs which pass out of the animal in the dung onto the pasture. Tapeworms produce eggs in the segments which break off and pass out in the dung. Animals become infected when they graze the pasture.

How do animals become infected with parasites?

The effect of parasites on the animal

Parasites feed on the food in the gut and on the blood of the host. The animal becomes weak and loses weight or does not gain weight. It can develop diarrhoea, which in sheep makes the wool wet and attracts flies.

Eventually the host becomes so weak that it dies. Young animals are especially affected by parasites.

Control of parasites

We can control parasites by:

· Killing the worms within the body
· Reducing the chances of the animal becoming infected on pastures

The worms can be killed inside the host by giving it a drug (See R11, Annex 1). The drugs are given by drenching, tablets or injection. Ask your veterinarian when and how often you should treat your animals.

In order to cut down the chance of animals becoming infected:

· If possible move stock to new pasture every one to two weeks.

· Young animals should be separated from old animals and allowed to graze fresh pasture first.

· If cattle, sheep and goats are kept in the same area, let the cattle graze the pasture before the sheep, as some worms which would infect the sheep will not infect the cattle.

· If animals are kept in an enclosure, removing the dung and disposing of it will prevent the animals picking up more worms or others becoming infected.

· Do not allow animals to graze on marshy ground or on pasture where the grass is very short.

· When animals have been treated, turn them out onto fresh pasture

Talk to your local veterinarian and he will advise you about controlling and treating parasites in your area. You should tell him if young animals develop diarrhoea or a harsh cough and die.

Unit 16: External parasites of ruminants

Ruminants can be infected by several parasites of the skin (external parasites) which feed on the animal's skin and blood.

The parasites cause disease, loss of weight, and can lead to death of the animal.

The parasites can also carry other infections and spread diseases from one animal to another. Some of these diseases can kill.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you will know:

1 What parasites can be found on ruminants.
2 The problems caused by infection with the parasites.
3 How to treat and control infection with parasites.

The parasites

All animals and man can be hosts to parasites which live on the skin. These parasites look like insects.

Mites are very small and cannot be seen without a microscope. They live and lay their eggs on the skin.

Lice (singular is louse) are big enough for you to see. Man can be infected with the head louse. Cattle, buffalo, sheep and goats can be infected with different lice which attack the body, legs or tail region. Lice live and lay their eggs on the skin amongst the hair or wool.


Ticks are bigger than lice and can be as big as a fingernail. Young ticks have 6 legs while adults have 8 legs. All ticks feed on the blood of the host and then drop off onto the pasture. They lay their eggs on the ground. Some ticks live on one host while others may live on two or three different animals throughout their lives


Problems caused by external parasites

Mites cause mange. They infect the head, legs, body or tail region causing the skin to become crusted and cause loss of hair and wool. The infected area itches and the animal scratches. The host does not feed well. The infections cause loss of valuable wool in sheep and damage hides of cattle and goats.

Sometimes young animals become infected with a skin disease called ringworm. Ringworm causes circular, whitish patches on the skin which do not itch. Animals can have both mange and ringworm and large areas of skin may be affected.


Lice also cause irritation of the skin and the animal scratches, rubs and bites the infected areas. The host loses, or does not gain weight, and looks in poor condition. Both lice and mites can pass from one animal to another. Biting and scratching are the first signs of infection. If you examine the animal you will be able to tell if the skin problem is caused by lice or mites, if lice are on the animal you will find them in its coat, if you do not see any the animal probably has mange caused by mites.

Ticks are very important parasites. They bite the host and suck its blood and when full drop off onto the pasture where they can live for many months without feeding again. Animals can be poisoned or paralysed by the bites of some ticks. Ticks also spread diseases, tick-borne diseases, which can cause death of the host. Ticks cause the loss of meat, wool, milk and leather.

Treatment and control

Mites and lice are controlled by washing the infected area, spraying or dipping the animal (see Dipping, Spraying Annex 3) with a suitable treatment (R15 Annex 1). All of the flock or herd must be treated to ensure control. Some animals can be infected but show little or no sign of infection and the parasites will spread from them to other animals if they are not treated too.

If an animal has only a few ticks these can be carefully pulled off making sure the mouthparts of the tick are removed. Rubbing ticks with a cloth soaked in kerosene (paraffin) will make them drop off the host. Large numbers of ticks are treated using sprays and dips (See R16 Annex 1). It will be necessary to treat all of the herd or flock.

Moving animals to different pastures and resting the contaminated pasture for a length of time can help to control the ticks. Cutting the bushes and ploughing the affected area can help to control ticks. Large numbers of ticks can be found around water holes and animal shelters. Keeping poultry in these areas can help to reduce numbers of ticks as the birds will eat them.

If mange or ticks are a problem in your community's livestock you should talk to your local veterinarian about it. He will advise you on the best treatment and control to use in your area. He may ask you to collect some ticks or take scrapings of skin from animals with mange so the parasite can be identified. This will help him to decide which treatment you should use.

Unit 17: Signs of heat (oestrus) in ruminants

Heat or oestrus is the period when the female will accept the male and mate.

There are signs which mark oestrus in all ruminants. Recognising when the female is on heat means you will know when to put her with the male or use artificial insemination.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What is heat or oestrus.
2 Recognise when a female animal is mature and comes in heat.
3 Know what the signs of heat are in different ruminants.
4 How long oestrus lasts in different animals.

What is heat?

The female reproductive system (see Unit 3) consists of two ovaries and a womb. Every so often the ovaries produce very small eggs (ova). The time when this happens is called heat or oestrus.

Cattle and buffalo regularly come into heat all year round. Most sheep and goats come into heat at a particular time of the year (breeding season).

Knowing when an animal is in heat

If you know when an animal is in heat you can introduce her to a chosen male for mating or you can arrange for her to be artificially inseminated if the service is available. You will also be able to identify animals which do not go in heat.

The best time to look for signs that the female is in heat is early morning or in the evening. Take care not to disturb the animals but just watch the animals for the signs.

Signs of heat

Ruminants can be kept on pasture or they may be stabled or tied up for most of the time. It is therefore necessary to consider this when looking for signs of heat:

1. Signs of heat in free animals (at pasture):

· Most females in heat will allow other animals to mount them.

· Cows in heat will mount one another, from the rear or from the front. However the cow on top may not be on heat.

· The vulva becomes swollen and the area around the tail becomes wet and dirty.

· If cows sniff each others' vulva and urine they may both come into heat.

· Cows can be coming into heat if they stand resting the chin on the back of another or are seen to lick or gently butt each other.

· Restlessness and calling loudly can also mean the female is coming into heat. Goats in particular become very noisy.

Signs of heat

2. Signs of heat in the stabled or tied animal:

The animals should be allowed out twice a day when they can be watched for signs of heat. If the female is not allowed out then the following will show that she is in heat:

· Swollen vulva.
· The animal is active, there is a loss of appetite and she calls loudly.
· In milking animals the amount of milk produced suddenly drops.
· A jelly-like mucous can be found on the floor with the dung.

You will need to be able to recognise the differences between signs of heat and signs of ill health in the animal which is tied up.

When do animals come into heat for the first time?

Animals come into heat when they reach puberty. This occurs at different ages in the different ruminants:

· Well fed cows and buffalo come into first heat at 10 - 20 months of age.
· Sheep and goats come into first heat between 6 - 12 months of age.

How long does heat last?

The duration of heat is very short.

· In cows and buffalo it lasts for less than a day.
· In goats heat lasts for 1 - 3 days.
· In sheep heat lasts for 1 - 2 days.

A healthy animal which was not mounted by a male or given artificial insemination will come back into heat. Cattle and buffalo cows will come into heat after 3 weeks (give or take a day or two), and female goats and sheep will come back into heat after 17 days (give or take a day or two).

The female which does not come into heat

The female may not show signs of heat because she is too old, or she may have been mated without the owner knowing. Sometimes animals come into heat without showing any signs. This is called a "silent heat" and is common in buffalo cows. If the feed is not sufficient or there is a lack of protein, salts or water, the animal can fail to come into heat. You will need to improve the female's feed to bring it into heat.

If young, well fed females do not come into heat or do not become pregnant you should ask your local veterinarian for advice.

Unit 18: Pregnancy in ruminants

When the animals mate sperm from the male loins with the eggs in the womb.

Heat then finishes and the belly of the female enlarges over several months as the young grow during pregnancy.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 What happens during pregnancy.
2 The signs of pregnancy.
3 Management of the pregnant animal.

What is pregnancy

When the male mates with the female he deposits sperm in the vagina. The sperm joins with the egg and forms the embryo which becomes attached to the wall of the womb. The embryo grows within a bag of fluid (water bag) and is attached to the wall of the womb by a navel cord.

Signs of pregnancy

Heat stops when pregnancy begins. The animal becomes quieter and the belly grows bigger. In milk animals the production of milk will gradually drop.

Length of pregnancy

If male and female animals have been allowed to run together in a large herd it will be difficult to determine the expected time for birth (parturition). If however you do know when a female was mated or given artificial insemination you can determine when she will give birth.

The length of pregnancy differs in different animals.


Length of pregnancy


280 days


320 days


150 days


150 days

There can be a few days difference either way depending on the type, climate, feed and other factors.

Management of the pregnant animal

You must remember that a pregnant animal will need more feed and will benefit from the addition of some grain to the feed towards the end of pregnancy. All pregnant animals should be kept close to home towards the end of the pregnancy and some form of shelter should be provided. They should be watched twice a day for signs that parturition is close. In particular cattle and buffalo need a clean, well ventilated place, preferably with a sand or grit floor on which suitable bedding is placed.

Do not keep a pregnant animal constantly tied up or with little room to exercise in. Allow her some freedom in a field or yard each day. She should be observed closely twice a day for signs of parturition.

Unit 19: Calving (parturition)

Calving is a natural process which normally takes place without help. Close observation is required in case the cow has difficulties.

Cows calving for the first time (heifers) tend to have more problems than older cows and therefore need more attention when calving.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should be able to:

1 Know the signs of calving.
2 Recognise a normal calving.
3 Help the cow which has difficulty in calving.
4 Care for the cow immediately after calving.
5 Care for the newborn calf.

The signs of calving

You will know that the cow is about to calve or give birth when you see:

· The belly has increased in size, especially on the right flank.
· The udder is filling up and the teats are stiffening.
· The vulva becomes red and swollen with the presence of mucous and blood coloured fluid.
· The animal is restless.
· The water bag appears at the vulva.

Normal calving

The water bag appears through the vulva. The cow will strain more. The head of the calf will appear and this breaks the bag. You will then be able to see both of the calf's front feet. It takes 4 - 6 hours for the calving to reach this stage. In heifers it might take longer. As the chest comes through the vagina the calf starts to breathe.

Normal calving

It is better to leave the cow alone to give birth naturally. However if you want to help with the calving you can gently pull the calf by its feet. If the navel cord (see Unit 18) is still attached to the cow you can cut it with a clean sharp knife or a pair of scissors, then put tincture of iodine or alcohol on the end of the navel cord.

Sometimes the back feet of the calf appear first. You can tell the back feet from the front by looking carefully. You will see that the back feet come out from the vulva with the soles of the feet showing uppermost. You should then look (or feel with your hands) for the tail and the hock joints.

Difficulties in calving

Leave the animal to give birth naturally. If difficulties occur you may find:

(1) Only the head of the calf has appeared.
(2) The head and one foot has come out.
(3) Two front feet showing but no head.

If this happens you should either ask the veterinarian to help or help the cow yourself

Difficulties in calving

You will need a bar of soap, hot water, a clean rope and clean vegetable oil such as olive or sunflower oil.

Wash the area around the vulva and wash your hands well. Make sure that your fingernails are cut short and are thoroughly clean. Long nails can injure the animal. If you have oil put some over your hand and arm, if not, soap your hand and insert it into the vagina to discover what is wrong.

You will need to recognise the difference between the front and back legs of the calf in the womb. Touch the fetlock joint and then run your hand up the leg to the next joint. There will be a knee joint on the front leg and a hock on the back leg. Push the calf either to one side or back into the uterus so that you can correct the situation and move the head and legs into the right place for birth.

Difficulties in calving

When the calf's head and legs are in the correct position tie a clean rope around both feet. Pull gently on the rope. You may need someone to help you pull.

Sometimes the water bag will burst but neither the feet nor the head will have appeared. This is a very difficult position to sort out and if you can you should immediately ask your veterinarian for help.

Caring for the cow after calving

Give the cow clean water to drink immediately after she has calved as she will be thirsty.

The water bag (afterbirth) will come out naturally but you can help to remove it by gently pulling it. The afterbirth should have come away by 24 hours after the birth. If the afterbirth remains in the uterus it will cause an infection and you will need to get your veterinarian to help.

Caring for the newborn calf

Always handle the calf carefully. Clean the mucous (sticky fluid) from the nose and mouth and check that the calf is breathing normally. If it is not breathing you must act immediately by:

· Pump the chest with the palm of your hand.
· Keep the calf's head lower than its back.
· Insert a straw into its nose in an attempt to make it sneeze and start breathing.

Allow the calf to suckle from its mother as soon as possible so that it takes in the colostrum, the yellowish milk which is produced immediately after birth. The colostrum is rich in protein and protects the calf against disease.

Some people use the colostrum for their food but it is essential to make the calf strong and healthy and should be left for the calf.

You must allow the calf to take colostrum for at least four days after its birth.

Unit 20: Lambing and kidding (parturition)

Lambing and kidding, like calving, are natural processes which normally take place without help. Observation is required in case there are any difficulties.

Sheep and goats, unlike cattle and buffalo, may frequently have twins (2 young) or triplets (3 young).

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should be able to:

1 Recognise the signs that parturition is beginning.
2 Know when parturition is normal.
3 Assist with parturition when necessary.
4 Care for the mother and newborn.

Signs of parturition

You will know when the goat or sheep is about to give birth as:

· The animal keeps away from others.
· The vulva is swollen and the skin is loose.
· The animal becomes restless and does not eat well.
· A discharge from the vulva will start a few days before parturition.
· The sheep will lie down and stretch the neck back to look at the sky (star gazing) and lick its lips.
· The sheep will strain to push out the lamb.

Star gazing

Normal parturition

Animals may give birth while standing or lying down. The head and both front legs appear while sometimes both the hind legs will appear. The young mother may have some problems in giving birth.

When and how to help in parturition

As with calving (see Unit 19) the young may be in an abnormal position and the birth is difficult. If you want to help you will need a bar of soap and clean water. Scrub your hands and fingernails then wash the area around the vagina. Soap your hands well and insert one hand into the vagina. When you have found what the problem is, correct the position of the young so it can be born. Carefully feeling for the leg joints will tell you which way round the young is.

You can hold the head but do not pull the young by the jawbone as the bone will break. You can use a clean rope tied around a leg above the fetlock joint to pull. Pull in a downwards direction as the mother strains.

If there are twins or triplets in the uterus you will have difficulty sorting out which legs belong to which one. Try to pull out the one nearest the vagina first. A newborn animal should try to breathe immediately after it is born, if it does not breathe you can put a straw into a nostril (nose) to stimulate breathing. If you hold it by the back legs and swing it gently back and forth, any mucous blocking the mouth and lungs will be forced out.

When and how to help in parturition

Care of the mother and newborn

Immediately after giving birth the mother should be given fresh clean water. Check that she is producing milk from both teats and allow the newborn to suckle colostrum (see Unit 19).

If the teats of a goat are fat with milk the young may have difficulty in suckling. Squeeze a little milk out so the kids can suckle easily. If she has produced triplets try to foster one (see Unit 21) on another mother.

If the mother had difficulty giving birth check that there are no dead young still in the uterus. If there are, remove them as they will cause an infection which will kill her.

The afterbirth should come out within 3 hours. If it has not appeared after 14 hours you will need to get veterinary help. There will be an afterbirth for each of the young the mother gave birth to.

Unit 21: Care of the newborn

From birth the young animal is vulnerable to disease. It is completely dependent on the mother for food and if the mother dies the orphan will need a foster mother if it is to survive.

Operations such as castration, cutting the tail and disbudding the horns must be done at a very early age to avoid unnecessary risks and least stress to the animal.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should be able to:

1 Check the navel cord of the newborn.
2 Check the young for extra teats.
3 Know how to foster (find new mother) for orphans (motherless young).
4 Caring for orphans.
5 Feeding the newborn.

Checking the navel cord

Ideally the navel cord of the newborn animal should be dressed with tincture of iodine, gentian violet or Dettol immediately after birth. This should be repeated 2 to 3 days later. After 1 week the cord should have dried and dropped off. If infection has developed, treat it as a wound (see Unit 73).

Checking for extra teats

Some female ruminants are born with one or more extra teats. This is especially the case with calves.

The extra teat(s) can be removed by:

· Restrain the animal firmly.
· Identify the extra teat(s) for removal.
· Use a pair of clean, sharp scissors to cut off the teat flush with the skin.
· Dress the wound with tincture of iodine or antibiotic powder.


Fostering of the young animal will be necessary if the natural mother has died or fails to produce enough milk for her young. The sheep or goat can only properly feed two young so any other young must be fostered. Fostering can be done by:

· Remove the skin of the foster mother's dead young and tie it around the orphan. After several days remove the skin.

· Rub the orphan with the afterbirth and fluids or under the tail of a mother who has just given birth. Allow the orphan to suckle with its back towards the mother's head so that she can smell it. This method is mainly used with sheep and goats.

· The foster mother can be tied up by the head in a small pen or shed and the orphan left with her. The orphan will usually suckle if the foster mother is prevented from kicking or moving away. This method can be used with sheep and goats but is also successful with cattle and buffalo. In the case of large ruminants tying a rope around the belly will stop the mother from kicking the calf as it suckles.

· Place the orphan and the foster mother in a small shed or pen and tie or leave a dog with them. The female will protect the orphan from the dog and will then allow it to suckle.

Hand rearing orphans

If no foster mother is available the orphan will need to be fed by hand. You must make sure that the orphan has colostrum, if possible for 4 days or 8 feedings. Collect the colostrum from other mothers into a clean bottle. Do not boil colostrum as it will curdle.

Lambs and kids can be fed warm milk from a bottle fitted with a rubber teat or nipple. Clean the bottle thoroughly after each feeding. They will need 4 to 6 feedings a day.

Calves can also be fed from a bottle but it is best to get them used to drinking milk from a bucket when they are a few days old. To get the calf to drink from a bucket get it to suck your fingers and then as it sucks gradually put your hand into the bucket of milk. Do this several times, holding the bucket at knee height, and the calf will feed from the bucket after a few lessons. The calf will need feeding 3 to 4 times a day. Clean and wash all bottles and buckets after each feeding.

Hand rearing orphans

Feeding calves

The stomach of the calf needs time to develop fully and become able to digest plants. At first it can only digest milk and a 2 month old calf will drink 4 to 6 litres of milk daily. The calf should be allowed to take all the milk it needs from his mother for the first two months of its life.

From 3 weeks of age a calf will begin to eat a little grass and by 3 months of age a calf can eat plants and ruminate. At this age the calf can be weaned. It is allowed to take less milk and is given solid food which is increased until drinking milk is stopped. It can be given grain during weaning. If the calf is left with the mother it will not be fully weaned until it is 8 to 12 months old.

Feeding lambs and kids

Lambs and kids will suckle from the mother until they are 4 months old, but they will start to show an interest in green plants from 3 weeks of age.

Remember that most newborn animals die because of lack of food. Cold and wet conditions are very bad for the newborn and can cause lung diseases which may kill the animal.

Unit 22: Milk production and the udder

The main purpose of the milk is to feed the young. A good milking animal can produce more milk than her young need.

Learning objective

After studying this unit you should know:

1 How milk is made.
2 How milk yields can be different.
3 The problems of infection (mastitis) of the udder.
4 Ways of using milk.

How milk is made

The udder of the cow and buffalo has four quarters, each quarter having a teat. In the sheep and goat the udder is divided into two with two teats.

How milk is made

Milk is produced in the udder from nutrients in the blood which flows through the vessels (tubes) in each quarter. The greater the amount of blood passing through the udder the greater the amount of milk which is produced. The milk is released as the teat is sucked or squeezed.

Milking by hand will take from 5 to 10 minutes. The udder should be emptied at each milking and this will stimulate the udder to develop more milk. Always milk the animal quietly. A good time to milk is in the morning before the animal goes out to graze and in the evening. Always milk at the same time each day.

Differences in milk yields

Milk yields will vary for different reasons:

· Some types or breeds of animals produce more milk than others.

· Milk production will be greater after the birth of the second or third young.

· Extra good feed, minerals and a lot of water are needed by the animal in milk in order to produce milk.

· Milk production improves when the animal gives birth in the rainy season when there is a lot of feed available.

· Talking, singing or whistling to the sheep, cow, goat or buffalo as it is being milked makes it relax and the milk is let down better.

· Some individuals naturally give more milk than others. These individuals should be selected for breeding (see Annex 4).

Infection of the udder (mastitis)

A good udder is essential for milk production. If the udder is injured or infected milk production can stop.

Infection of the udder is called mastitis and is caused by germs. Mastitis can be recognised by:

· The milk is not clean, the colour is different and there may be lumps in the milk
· The udder is hot, painful and swollen.
· The skin of the teats is cracked.
· The animal may stop eating.

More than one quarter of the udder may be infected. The mastitis may be caused by a germ which is infectious and spreads to other animals. Goat milk must be closely looked at for signs of mastitis because the milk may not show a noticeable change in colour.

To stop mastitis or to reduce the chances of it occurring the following steps should be taken:

· The hands of the milker should always be clean.
· The udder should be washed with warm water and dried before the animal is milked.
· Any animal with mastitis (or other disease) should always be milked last.
· Treatment of mastitis will be successful if it is started early.

Infection of the udder (mastitis)

To treat mastitis the udder should be bathed with warm water. The bad milk in the udder should then be removed using a clean teat catheter or by hand milking. This is carried out at least twice a day until the udder returns to normal.

A treatment which is now preferred is to bathe the affected quarter with cold water and then milk out the quarter. The udder is then dried and massaged. This is repeated morning and night until the udder returns to normal. If the infection is severe this treatment is repeated every 2 to 3 hours.

If the infection persists antibiotic in a tube (see R19 Annex 1) should be squeezed into the teat canal following each milking. You can give an injection of antibiotic (see R6 Annex 1) in cases of severe mastitis.

Ask for veterinary advice if mastitis is a continual or spreading problem in your community.

Ways of using milk

The milk of cattle, goats, sheep and buffalo are different but all contain fat, protein, vitamins and minerals and are of great value as food for humans. Milk can be used to make cream, butter, ghee, yoghurt and cheeses as well as other forms of food.

Although milk is a good food it can carry diseases. It can also become infected with germs from the person who milked the animal or by dirt from the animal. Whoever drinks the milk can then become infected.

If milk is kept it will become sour and unfit to drink. If milk has to be stored for use during the day it should be boiled every 4 to 5 hours and kept in a clean covered container. If milk is to be kept overnight it should be boiled and put in its clean, covered container in a cool place out of reach of cats, rodents and insects. It should be boiled again in the morning before it is used.

To prevent disease being spread by milk:

· Only use milk from healthy animals.

· Wash and dry the animal's udder before milking, thoroughly wash the hands before milking.

· Always throw away the first squeezes of milk from the udder as this may contain germs.

· Boil the milk before drinking it.

· Store milk in clean vessels in which water has been boiled or which have been washed out with hot water.

Unit 23: Feed and water for ruminants

In order to get the most out of livestock you must always give animals enough good feed and clean water.

Good feed is high in nutrients and provides everything that the body needs in order for the animal to grow and reproduce.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you will know:

1 What nutrients animals need in their feed.
2 What is a daily ration.
3 What are roughage and concentrate feeds.
4 Feed for the dry season.
5 Fodder trees.

What an animal needs in its feed

All animals and humans need the nutrients called carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in their feed in order to stay healthy, have energy, grow and reproduce.

Carbohydrates such as sugar and starch are burned in the body to give energy. Fats are broken down in the body to give carbohydrates and water. Animals and humans store carbohydrates as fat in the body.

Protein forms the building blocks of the body. It is needed to produce the muscles.

Minerals such as copper and calcium are needed to form the bones, brain, nerves and blood. Plants take in minerals from the soil. Vitamins are essential for a healthy body and all plants contain several vitamins.

If animals do not get enough of any nutrient they will become less productive and may die from a condition called a deficiency disease.

If an animal does not get enough fat, protein or carbohydrate in its feed it cannot grow properly, loses weight, milk production drops and production of young is affected. Lack of minerals results in such problems as failing to come into heat, poor bone growth and loss of hair or wool. While lack of essential vitamins can cause problems such as blindness and swollen joints.

Types of feed

A good, rich feed contains more energy than a poor feed and a cow gets as much energy from 1 kg of sorghum, barley or corn as it does from 6 kg of grass. Some feeds are very poor and of little use to the animal. For example old straw contains little energy, most of it cannot be digested and passes out of the animal as dung.

· Roughage is bulky and low in energy-giving carbohydrates. Examples of such feeds are grasses, maize stalks and sweet potato tops.

· Concentrates are feeds which are rich in proteins and carbohydrates, e.g. grain crops.

The large stomach of the ruminant with its four compartments means that it can live mainly on roughage. Animals with single stomachs need more concentrates than ruminants.


A daily ration is the amount of feed an animal needs every day. A good ration will contain all of the nutrients. Some nutrients are found in large amounts in some plants:




maize, sorghum, wheat, oats, rice, grass


lucerne (alfalfa), clovers, beans, grass


cotton seed, sunflower seeds, grass, groundnuts

An example of a good ration which can be given to animals not on pasture is 3 parts of maize, part sunflowers and 1 part unshelled groundnuts. The ration is fed at the rate of 2 - 3% of body weight each day.

Green growing grass contains all the nutrients but in the dry season grass contains little protein and vitamins. It is necessary to give additional feeds at this time in order to prevent weight loss, maintain high milk production, growth and reproduction. It may also become necessary to give minerals to the animal.

Feed for the dry season

In the dry season grass becomes scarce and is low in nutrients. When grass is plentiful in the wet growing season you can cut grass and store it until it is needed in the dry season. The grass can be kept as hay or silage.

Hay is dried grasses. The best hay is prepared from young grasses. Cut the grass and leave it to dry in the sun for several days turning it over to make sure it is completely dry when it can be stored until needed. Do not try to make hay in the rainy season.

Silage is grass or other plants which are cut while green and stored without air. To make silage you will need an airtight container or pit to store it in.


Dig a pit 2 metres deep and 1.5 to 2.0 metres wide. Put a base of large stones in the bottom of the silo. Cut grass and fill the silo with it, stamping down the grass with your feet. The silo must be filled in 1 to 2 days.

When filled cover the top of the silo with a sheet of plastic or stones and a covering of soil in order to keep out water and air. Leave the silage for a few months before using it. The quality of the silage will depend on the plants used. Silage keeps well and animals like it.

Fodder trees

In some communities people traditionally cut tree branches to feed their animals. We now know that some trees are better than others for feed. The best trees are leguminous trees (Leucaena).

These trees can be grown in rows 4 m apart. Other crops can be grown between the rows of trees (alley farming). The leaves and branches of the trees can be cut through the year and used as animal feed.

Using these trees for feed is beneficial because:

· The leaves of the trees provide good feed for animals all through the year.
· The rotting leaves provide a mineral rich mulch (natural fertiliser) for other crops.
· The trees provide fuel wood, timber and shelter from the wind.
· The trees stop soil erosion and improve the fertility of the soil.

Ask your agriculture officer or veterinarian about using fodder trees.

Supplementary feeds

Supplementary feeds are given when the grass is poor and dry or when an animal is pregnant, giving milk or is a working animal.

The best supplementary feed is cake. The cheapest of which is the waste material from the processing of coconuts, groundnuts, cottonseed and palm oil. You can use whatever is available locally.


Animals need plenty of fresh clean water every day. Always give water before feeding animals and allow them to drink at least three times a day. Ruminants on pastures can be watered every 2 - 3 days. Do not allow animals to stand in the water at the drinking place. This can cause disease to spread. Water needs will vary according to the feed they eat and the weather.

A pinch of salt can be added to the drinking water to provide minerals.


Take care not to spread disease through feed and water. Keep water and feed troughs clean and do not allow animals to eat old or musty feed.

Change feeds slowly. Take special care when introducing fresh green feed so that bloat is avoided.

New methods of feeding animals have been developed and are used in many countries:

· Feeding urea-treated straw. Straw is a low nutrient feed for ruminants but if it is wetted with urea and covered for a week it becomes more nutritious.

· Molasses-urea-mineral blocks. Blocks made of molasses, mineral salts and urea are a good supplement for ruminants which lick the block and take in the nutrients.

You should talk to the people in your community to discover what they feed their animals. Your local veterinarian or extension worker can advise you on the best types of feed that you can get locally and how they can be used for the livestock in your community. You could encourage your community to make hay or silage for use in the dry season.

Unit 24: Grazing management

Managing the grazing of pastures by herds and flocks will:

· Prevent overgrazing of pasture and loss of soil through erosion
· Ensure maximum production of animal feed from the land
· Help in the control of internal and external parasites

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should know:

1 How to manage pastures.
2 What is meant by pasture rotation.
3 The value of managing pastures.

Pasture management

Pasture management is the control of pasture grazing by all animals. Pasture should be grazed lightly enough to keep the mature grass growth down but not so much that it is cropped to the ground. If some grasses are not touched by the grazing animals, pull them up before they flower and produce seeds. The livestock should then be moved off the pasture and it is rested to allow the growth of fresh grass. Bushes and trees which goats like to graze will also produce fresh growth.

It may be necessary to move herds some distance to find new grazing. Buffalo and cattle can travel up to 3 km while goats and sheep travel up to 5 km from watering points in search of fresh grazing.

Pasture rotation

Pasture can be fenced or hedged to make protected enclosures. This allows animals to be confined to an area while the neighbouring pasture is rested. In this way land can be grazed for 1 to 2 weeks and then rested for several weeks to allow grass to regrow. This is pasture rotation.

Pasture rotation

Why manage the grazing of pastures?

When the grazing of pastures by livestock is controlled it brings several be refits:

· Herding animals allows them to be watched and any problems such as bloat will be quickly noticed.

· By preventing animals from overgrazing pasture the fertile top soil will be held in place by the plants and their roots. It will not become eroded and the soil is not washed into streams and irrigation channels causing problems for farmers.

· Pasture rotation allows fresh growth of feed plants for the animals. It allows pasture to be left long enough for grasses to produce good roots and seed.

· Fencing areas to keep animals out allows the growing of special feed crops which can later be cut and fed to the animals.

· Pasture rotation helps in the control of both internal and external parasites. Do not always keep young animals on the pasture near the water supplies. It is here that large numbers of parasite eggs build up.

· Pasture rotation increases the fertility of the soil through the animals depositing dung.

Encourage the people in your community to look after the local environment and keep it free from objects that can be a danger to grazing animals and people.

Remember that the grazing ruminant can eat many things as it grazes:

· Wire and nails can pass through the wall of the rumen into the heart and kill. They can also injure the feet.

· Plastic bags can choke an animal and block the stomach.

· Tin cans and glass can cut the mouth, feet and legs.

Unit 25: Cattle plague (rinderpest) and foot and mouth disease

Ruminants, especially young animals, can suffer from a variety of diseases.

Rinderpest (cattle plague) is highly infectious and can kill cattle and buffalo.

Foot and mouth disease is very common in many countries. It affects cattle, sheep, buffalo and goats.

These two diseases are very important. Rinderpest occurs in Asia, the Middle East and Africa while foot and mouth disease occurs all over the world except in Australia, New Zealand, North America and now Western Europe. Ask your veterinary service for more information about these diseases and ask your community to help in any vaccination campaign that the veterinary service may organise.

Learning objectives

After studying this unit you should be able to:

1 Recognise when cattle and buffalo are suffering from rinderpest.
2 Recognise foot and mouth disease in ruminants.

Cattle plague (rinderpest)

· The signs of rinderpest infection in cattle and buffalo are:

· First stage is a high fever (40.5°C to 41.5°C).

· Red patches appear on the vagina or scrotum followed by patches on the lips, nostrils and around the eyes.

· In buffalo the first sign of the disease is a discharge from the eye.

· The patches develop pus (yellowish matter) in them.

· Frothy saliva comes from the mouth.

· The animal suffers from constipation (can not pass dung) followed by diarrhoea. The important sign is the bad smell of the dung.

· After a few days the animal dies

Rinderpest is a highly infectious disease and can kill many animals especially cattle and buffalo. The disease is mainly spread through the drinking water which has been infected by the dung of sick animals but it can also spread by direct contact and in the breath. The disease affects wild animals and pigs. Deaths of wild pigs can be a sign that rinderpest is present in the area.

Ask your veterinarian for more information about the disease. Help the veterinary service if they have a campaign against rinderpest. Vaccinate your cattle against rinderpest and ear mark them so that they can be identified.

Foot and mouth disease

The signs of infection with foot and mouth disease are:

· First stage is a high temperature.

· Small blisters (bags of skin filled with fluid) appear in the mouth and on the tongue, between the claws, around the hoof and on the teats.

· The blister will break and the skin over it is lost to give reddish patches.

· Saliva will be produced but the animal has difficulty in eating.

· The hoof may come off and the animal will be lame.

There are a few diseases which have similar signs to foot and mouth disease. Ask your veterinarian for advice about the signs of the disease.

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