Recently, I have been encouraged to write about health challenges with our beloved Angus cattle in Florida.
After the 2017 hurricane season, unprecedented flooding, standing water and higher than normal water table have become a serious problem. Our cattle have been exposed to silent but deadly liver flukes, gastrointestinal parasites, and foot disorders.
Most pastures I visit in my daily practice are partially or totally flooded, and some ponds and lakes have more water now than immediately after hurricane Irma. Some of you may think that liver flukes have been in Florida since the dawn of times, but now they are more of a problem than ever because water has opened a highway for liver flukes from the ponds and lakes to the main grazing areas.
Liver flukes are more difficult to treat today than a year ago due to the shortage of Ivomec plus. There are alternatives for treatment like Valbazen, but they also have their own health concerns. Make sure to work with your veterinarian about designing a liver flukes and gastrointestinal parasite treatment plan in your health program.
Prolonged grazing on wet areas have created conditions like soft feet, sole ulcers, heel erosions, foot rot, and in more severe cases, laminitis. Identifying lame cows and moving them to higher ground before the problem escalades can prevent the progression of soft feet to more complicated conditions.
Gerson Herrera, DVM
Herd Health Chairman
Florida Angus Association