Livestock rescued from flooded areas need special care

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Livestock caught in flooded areas due to last week's heavy rains in the Brazos Valley in central Texas need special care to survive the trauma, Texas Cooperative Extension officials said Monday.

"Livestock will be weak from the stress of not eating and standing for days or having had to swim in rough water," said Dr. Joe Paschal, Extension livestock specialist. "As soon as they are rescued, cows and older calves, sheep and goats should be fed a good quality hay, which will warm them through the heat of digestion."

They should also be given a probiotic treatment to help restore rumen function, he noted.

"Swine will need a good high-energy, low-fiber, grain-based feed," Paschal said. "Horses could use both a good quality feed and some hay. Ranchers should be careful to prevent overfeeding."

Young animals, such as calves, lambs, pigs, and foals, surviving the flood will be most stressed and possibly least likely to survive, Paschal said. Young animals will be more susceptible to pneumonia from the chilling effect of the water, weather and lack of feed and care, he said.

"This will be even greater in those livestock that have ingested or inhaled significant amounts of water in their lungs," he said.

Young nursing animals that may have been lost or separated from their dams will require a higher level of nutrition, similar to that provided in their dam's milk, if they are to survive, Paschal said.

Livestock needing veterinary treatment for injuries and wounds will require a tetanus antitoxin for immediate protection, said Dr. F. C. "Buddy" Faries, Extension veterinarian. This will provide protection for two to six weeks. Severely injured livestock should be humanely destroyed and disposed using sanitary methods.

Young calves, lambs and kids may also be susceptible to coccidiosis, a protozoal disease that can cause scouring, dehydration and death if not treated. Faries said ranchers should treat their young livestock to prevent this condition.

Some animals, once rescued, may die from stress of the ordeal regardless of the good care and treatment provided. Horses, cattle, sheep, goats and pigs will all require similar treatment when rescued – good quality feed and veterinary care when needed.

Once the flood waters recede, properly disposing of dead animals by burning or burying will be critical. Survivors will need to be returned to their proper owners. Surviving cattle should be isolated to monitor for disease or sickness until their owners can claim them, Faries said.

Animals that have brands or tags may be ownership identified with records in the county clerk's office. Members of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser's Association in Fort Worth, (817) 332-7064, or the Independent Cattlemen's Association, (512) 620-0162, will have records of brands as well.

Local livestock sale barns and Extension agents may also assist in determining ownership. Cows having brucellosis vaccination tags can be identified through records at the Texas Animal Health Commission in Austin, (512) 719-0700.

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