In recent weeks, it has been reported that many cattle have died from fog fever.
Fog Fever, also known as ‘Acute Bovine Pulmonary Edema and Emphysema’ is a form of an acute respiratory disease of cattle (pneumonia) that adult cattle are susceptible to.
It is a disease that can develop at a quite a fast rate.
The name is rather misleading and the condition has no associations with foggy weather conditions or smog.
It is most commonly found in the autumn season.
The condition occurs between 5-10 days of moving an animal, quite commonly a beef animal, from dry feed to a better quality, lush green pasture, with lower dry matter.
In some cases, it can take up to 14 days for the respiratory condition to occur.
According to Evolution Farm Vets, up to 50% of the herd can be impacted and approximately 30% may die as a result.
Often the turn-out field in question may possibly possess a high Nitrogen content.
According to Producer.com, the condition is caused by ‘tryptophan’, a protein.
The bacteria in the animal’s ruminant chamber converts Tryptophan and a toxic called ‘3-methyl-indole’ is produced following an introduction to a new pasture that contains high levels of tryptophan.
Rumen bacteria do not slowly adapt.
The toxin emerges into the cow’s bloodstream and travels to the lungs.
Cellular damage occurs.
This is why and how it becomes untreatable.
Symptoms/Signs include the following but are not limited to:
- Breathing heavily.
- Difficulty breeding.
- Breathing with their mouths open in some cases.
- Crackly feeling under the skin (like pockets of air under the animal’s skin).
- Animals appear distressed.
- Loss of appetite.
- A possible temperature increase due to increased rate of breathing.
- Drooling from mouth/ froth secretions.
- Anxious behaviour- animals may be isolated from the rest of the herd.
Seeking the advice, expertise and intervention from your veterinary practitioner is paramount.
Eliminate any possible stress to the animal.
Unfortunately, very little can be done for the animal due to the high risk period which occurs once the signs/symptoms become noticeable.
Generally, the animals die, as previously mentioned, with no specific treatment for the condition.
Prevention is better than cure and the three following tips are commonly provided by veterinary practitioners:
- Good grassland management procedures which allows for the grazing of pastures at adequate times.
- Introduce the new diet gradually to the animal.
- Increase the grazing period over 10-12 days.
- Consider Strip Grazing.