What are some common ilnesses that kill cattle?

What are some common causes of death of livestock not including slaughter? And how could you tell by looking at the corpse of the animal?

First question: off the top of my head: Mastitis (milk cattle), various vitamin deficiencies, mad cow, parasites, intestinal blockage, Anthrax, hoof & mouth, tetanus, blunt trauma, heart attack

Second question: you can’t. You need a vet, and an autopsy, just like with a person who dies of unknown causes.

What if a vet or looked at the corpse and made an educated guess about what could have caused it based on some external clue?

Maybe or maybe not. Some diseases have very obvious symptoms, others less so. If the cow has its throat ripped open, that’s a pretty good clue what killed it. If the cow is laying there dead and unmarked, it could be many things. Of course a vet knows much more than you or I what to look for.

A vet might make an educated guess, but generally its no more than that without a necroscopy/lab work. My horse dropped dead one day, and the vet made an educated guess that it was a stroke/brain embolism, but that’s just assuming the most likely thing to occur, did occur. It could have been a lot of things.

If you saw a human being of average build laying dead with no obvious injuries, would you know whether it died from a blood clot to the brain, parasitical disease, or electrolyte imbalance? Even a doctor needs to examine the body closely to be sure.

Tuberculosis is a common one.

Yeah, how did I forget that??:smack:

Lightening strike, in some parts of the country.

Well, depending on the external clue, yes you might be able to make a educated guess…
large burn mark and singed hair - cow found after recent severe thunderstorm. Probable cause - lightning strike.
2 puncture marks in a swollen area - snake bite.
wet muddy cow 6 foot up in a tree on the river bank after a flood - drowning.
dead cow laying in pasture full of poisonous plants - poisoning would be a good guess.
Known outbreak of some desease in neighboring pastures causing same signs, probably a good guess its the same thing.

An otherwise healthy cow found dead in pasture full of other healthy cattle, no way of knowing without testing.

Cattle mutes

silently thanks Wile E for volunteering to take the hits

I’ve always gotten the impression that cattle are more sensitive to electricity and cardiac arrest than humans are. 'Course they do stand outside a lot, which may be part of it.

Rinderpest is a big one. It migrated to humans (I think as measles, if I correctly recall Guns Germs, and Steel.)

Bloat and staggers are a danger in spring.

There is also hardware desease.

Foot & mouth itself doesn’t kill many cattle, they get destroyed to prevent the disease spreading. In the 2001 outbreak in the UK, 2000 confirmed cases led to the destruction of around 7 million animals. Wikipedia cite

Anthrax is the one I can think of.

I’d guess that the second leading cause of bovine death (after the bolt gun at the slaughterhouse) would be complications in calving.

There’s McDonaditis, Burger Kingism, White Castle Syndrome, Wendiapathy, and a host of others :slight_smile:

Mastitis usually doesn’t kill cattle, unless it is an environmental contaminant or one of the really bad bugs some small ruminants get, where the infection goes systemic. But mastitis will cause a decrease in production, and if the owner doesn’t want to treat the cow… well, it won’t be producing milk for long.

Mad cow is not that common. Parasites are more common killers of smaller ruminants, camelids, and young calves, not big adult cattle.

Cattle are resistant to tetanus, compared, to say, horses. But they are susceptible to other clostridial diseases, for which they (and other ruminants) have to be vaccinated against. And those other diseases are more common.

Hoof and mouth, as mentioned, does’t really kill animals. Just make them really really crappy for a while and deeply affects production.

Heart attack like in humans is a very very very uncommon disease in animals, period. Heart problems are uncommon in most animals compared to humans.

In the US, cases of bovine tuberculosis, caused by Mycobacterium bovis, are very rare. Most herds are considered free of TB. Only a few pockets are left in a few states. There is always a vigilance, though, because deer can get it and it goes unchecked in that population.

If you’re talking about bovine paratuberculosis, also known as Johne’s disease, also caused by another Mycobacteria spp., then that can be more common. And usually the clinical sign, in cows, is a very thin, poor doer cow with chronic diarrhea. It is more likely the cow be culled and the infection found during necropsy.

Rinderpest is on its way to being eradicated, thanks to a very effective vaccination program. Not to mention it is not even in the New World.

Although that can happen, it is not that common, is it? It’s not as if there are constant lighting strikes.

Anthrax is pretty uncommon. Always a disease to watch out for, seldom to be diagnosed.

Nope. Dystocias are not THAT common, and even if they are, the adult cow usually makes it through. And calf too, surprisingly. Dystocias are slightly more common and of more concern in horses, though.

Oui, for many cases. That is my job, thank you very much.

And since it is my job, I have to say y’all have failed to say one of the leading causes of death in cattle… Pneumonia. Which can appear to be “sudden death”, and which can have no external indications.

Just for clarification, mad cow isn’t caused by a parasite.