Monitoring Herds After Wildfires

March 17, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn (RFD-TV) Several livestock producers lost their entire herd in last week’s wildfires, and those who didn’t are dealing with burned or injured animals. One veterinarian advises ranchers on short and long term health issues.

Dr. A.J. Tarpoff, Kansas State University Beef Veterinarian, says, “We have some hungry calves that need some solid base nutrition, and we need to step up and give some extra care for these young calves.”

Getting these animals proper nutrients may be top of mind, but there’s also concern for diseases.

Tarpoff continues, “Initially from the high temperatures from the fires we saw some separation and cracking in what’s called the coronary band. That’s where the hoof transitions to the skin – that’s called the coronary band. That’s where hoof development begins.”

Whether the degree of the damage is slight or severe, laminitis could develop making it hard for cattle to walk.

“If those animals start to separate from their hoof wall and we see those cracks right at the coronary band, immediate euthanasia probably needs to be implemented,” suggests the beef doctor.

Apart from laminitis, producers need to be on the lookout for other problems.

“Here within the next couple weeks some of those burned areas may turn very hard and get wrinkly and look like leather. That skin is getting ready to sluff or be removed from the body. Secondary bacterial infections, things like that – until we get new skin created underneath those burns – is still a threat,” Tarpoff warns.

Tarpoff says it’s also important to keep an eye on bulls: “These bulls may have been reproductively tested to be able to breed this season. Even if their burns aren’t severe, it’d be a good idea to retest our bulls to make sure they are fit for this upcoming breeding season.”

The recovery will be long for both the animals and the ranchers, but there are plenty of people, like Tarpoff, ready to lend a helping hand.