Dane County: You'd think the warm weather would be eaiser on the animals, instead it's easier on the diseases.
A good hard freeze can usually knock down most insects and bacteria for the winter. That lack of a freeze is why cattle are suffering this winter.
"We are seeing a little more pneumonia than we normally might see," says Dr. Nathan Dorshorst, a dairy veterinarian. He says warmer, more humid air tends to increase the bacterial counts in air. "There are higher bacteria concentrations in a lot of the buildings. A lot of people this time of year think they need to close everything up ventilation wise and that just traps more bacteria in the environment that's surrounding the cows."
A sick cow needs antibiotics and usually produces less milk.
The weather has turned colder, but that only helps if it stays cold. "It's the changes in weather that causes stress for these cattle and that weakens their immune system and leaves them more vulnerable for infections such as pnuemonia," says Dorshorst.
Smaller animals have their own challenges. Dr. Bob Klostermann owns the Middleton Veterinary Hospital. "We're seeing about 3 times the flea and tick cases we normally see this time of year."
He says in the past people stopped using flea and tick prevention from November through March. But he recommends continuing treatment until it gets really cold. "There is a chance of the other intestinal parasites in warm weather as well. Perhaps keep the prevention going is the best medicine at this point."