Animal Health

Keeping livestock healthy is an essential component of livestock management. Diseases can easily spread among herds, potentially causing troubling losses for producers. Farmers can keep their herd healthy by providing adequate nutrition, improving animal housing conditions, ensuring veterinary care, and watching out for signs of diseases common for the class of livestock.

Diseases can be carried on clothing and equipment, so producers should be careful to minimize livestock exposure to items or other animals that have been off the farm. In the case of an animal getting sick, it should be moved away from the rest of the herd to reduce the risk of the illness spreading among the livestock.

Common Health Concerns

  • PRRS in Swine: porcine reproductive and respiratory system virus (PRRS) is a serious concern for pork producers. PRRS is transferred on contaminated items that enter the barn. The virus can cause respiratory problems in young pigs and can also cause reproductive failure in sows.
  • Mastitis in Cows: mastitis is an inflammation of the cow’s udder tissue, commonly caused by contaminated milking equipment that is shared among the herd. Cows affected by mastitis produce abnormal milk.
  • Lameness in Cows: lameness means that a cow has reduced mobility and cannot walk normally, and it has a number of causes. Farmers can avoid lameness by keeping cows in safe environments where they can avoid cuts and bruises on the hocks. Keeping cows on soft and dry surfaces as well as hoof trimming are also key for hoof health.
  • Mites in Poultry: mites are a common problem for poultry producers. These pests drink the blood of the animal and infest the coop. To ensure mites don’t become a bigger problem, insecticides can be used to treat mite infestations.

Disease Prevention

Producers should favor preventative measures over corrective ones when it comes to livestock health. Since illness can spread among the herd, preventing diseases rather than treating them is likely to be much more cost-effective in the long run. Preventing diseases involves veterinary care, proper nutrition, and clean livestock facilities.

Veterinary Care and Vaccinations

Vaccinations are essential for livestock health. The vaccinations that a producer administers to their herd are often chosen based on the exposure risk that livestock face in the area. Producers should take care to follow vaccination best practices to avoid infections throughout the immunization process.


One of the most important ways producers can prevent health problems in their livestock is by providing rations or grazing that fulfill the nutritional needs of the animals. Rations should have balanced amounts of protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals. Livestock feeding on a nutrient-rich diet will also have increased performance, as nutrition is essential for immune system functioning, growth, breeding, and more.

Improving Livestock Facilities

Keeping animals in clean, dry facilities is also key to livestock health. Barns should be well-ventilated to provide improved air quality. Dry, soft surfaces with adequate bedding will promote animal comfort and hoof health. Facilities should be regularly cleaned out as well.