Livestock Disease Tables

A guide encompassing common diseases and their symptoms, treatment, and prevention for livestock including poultry, rabbits, sheep, goats, pigs, and calves. 

December 2017
By Steven Thomas and George P. Looby

Backyard Livestock cover

Backyard Livestock (The Countryman Press, 2017), by Steven Thomas and George P. Looby, acts as a reference for anyone who keeps animals as a sustainable food source. Laying out up-to-date information on breeding, feeding, disease prevention, housing, and management for livestock, complete with clarifying diagrams, full color photography, and a catalog of supplemental reading.

Understanding and preventing diseases that can effect your livestock is essential for identifying potential threats. Listed below is an overview of common diseases organized by species.

Poultry

 

 INFECTIOUS 
DISEASE

 

POULTRY
 AFFECTED 

 CAUSE   SYMPTOMS   TREATMENT   PREVENTION 
Brooder pneumonia Young chicken and turkeys especially Fungus: Aspergillus fumigatus Rapid breathing, labored, depression None Strict sanitation in brooder equipment
Blackhead or histommoniasis Turkeys especially Protozoa: Histoma meleagridis Listless, ruffled feathers, dark blue head Carbasone, nitarsone, dimetridazole, ipronidazole, acidified copper sulfate, plus others Strict sanitation; rotate ground; keep other birds away
 Botulism Lembunich Ducks  Bacteria: Clostridium botulinum (toxin) Sudden death  None Sanitation
Coccidiosis All species Coccidia, one or more variety for each species of bird Bloody droppings in chickens

Amprolium, sulfonamides; get the current recommendations

Sanitation
Duck plague All species Herpes virus Sudden death   Keep wild fowl away from flock, and vaccination
Fowl cholera All Bacteria: Pasteurella multocida Rapid death Sulfaquinoxaline, tetracycline Vaccination
Fowl pox Chickens, turkeys Virus Poxlike sores on unfeathered areas of body None Vaccination, in areas where disease is a problem
Viral hepatitis of ducks (DVH) Ducks under 7 weeks Picornavirus Sudden death None Rat and wild duck control; strict iso- lation of young ducks; vaccination of adult breeder stock from older birds
Hemorrhagic enteritis of turkeys Ducks under 7 weeks Group II adenovirus Sudden onset, bloody diarrhea None Vaccination (given in drinking water) enteritis of turkeys
Infectious bronchitis Chickens Coronavirus Coughing, tearing None  Good nursing, vaccination
Infectious coryza Chickens Bacterium: Hemophilus gallinarum Facial swelling may close eyes, discharge Erythromycin Buy replacement from clean flock; a bacterin is available
Infectious laryngotracheitis Chickens Virus Gasping, coughing with hock extended None Vaccination
Influenza All Virus Signs are those of a cold None Reportable disease
(Note: Avian flu—especially the H5N1 strain, which has become such a concern lately—falls into this category, but so far is limited to Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.)
 Infectious serositis, “new duck disease” All Bacteria: Pasteurella antipestifer  Eye and nose discharge Sulfaquinoxaline, penicillin, steratomycin Bacterin available
Newcastle disease Primarily ducks Virus Coughing, sneezing, with nervous system involved in severe cases None Vaccination
Pullorum disease Chickens, turkeys, ducks Bacteria: Salmonella pullorum Symptoms in young poultry: listless, whitish  diarrhea, do not eat None Control by testing of breeding flocks; eradication program; vaccination
Pullorum disease Chickens Virus. One of the first cancers proven to be caused by a virus Paralysis, some- times only depression None Vaccination

Rabbits

 

 INFECTIOUS 
DISEASE

 CAUSE   SYMPTOMS   TREATMENT   PREVENTION 
VIRAL DISEASES 
Infectious myxomatosis Virus; poxvirus Milky eye discharge; ear edema; nasal discharge None None
BACTERIAL DISEASES 
Pasteurellosis, “Snuffles” Pasteurella multocida Thin, purulent nose and eye discharge None Recovered animals may become carriers
Abscesses   Abscess on any part of body None  
Mastitis (Blue breasts) Staphylococci, Streptococci Hot, swollen mammary glands Penicillin variants Good sanitation
Treponematosis, vent disease Spirochete: Treponema cuniculi Scabs and/or loss of fur in genital region Penicillin var., entire herd Do not use affected ani- mals for breeders
Hutch burn, urine burn Wide range of possible organisms Similar parts affected as vent disease Antibiotic ointment; apply to affected parts Keep hutches clean and dry
Enterotoxemia Clostridium spiroforme Sudden death Onset usually too rapid to treat Avoid diets too low in fiber
Mucoid enteropathy Unknown Constipation None Oral fluids to overcome dehydration
Tyzzer’s disease Bacillus piliformis Severe diarrhea None None
PARASITIC DISEASES
Coccidiosis: hepatic and intestinal Coccidia Young rabbits may be off feed, dull Sulfaquinoxoline in feed or water Good sanitation; avoid fecal contamination
Ear mites Infestation Scratching at ear Clean ear with perox- ide, then use ear mite medicine Good sanitary practices
MISCELLANEOUS CONDITIONS
Wet dewlap (moist dermatitis) Various Inflammation of the dewlap Clip affected area-use antiseptic powder Use automatic dew drop valves; elevate drinking dishes
Hair chewing Perhaps low-fiber diet Chewing of fur Change to higher fiber diet High-fiber diet, e.g., good quality hay
Hairballs Swallowing fur Indigestion, gagging None High fiber diet—mineral oil, etc. of no value
Heat Exhaustion Overexposure to bright sunlight Heavy panting, elevated body temperature, and extreme lassitude Immerse severely affected rabbits in cold water Construct hutches to allow for good ventila- tion. Provide cold water and sprinkle hutches in hot weather.
Sore hocks (ulcerative pododermatitis) Direct contact with wire mesh, especially in heavy breeds where there is an accumulation of urine-soaked feces. Raw, weeping sores on hind legs Difficult to treat. Affected animals should be culled. Keep hutches clean
Malocclusion An inherited characteristic Failure of teeth to grind against each other, especially the incisors or front teeth. Affected teeth should be clipped off. Affected animals should not be used as breeders.

Sheep

 

 INFECTIOUS 
DISEASE

 CAUSE   SYMPTOMS   TREATMENT   PREVENTION 
METABOLIC DISEASES Those caused by feed intake or stresses affecting all the body systems due to conditions such as lambing
Grass staggers, grass tetany, hypomagne- semic tetany Low intake of magnesium; suddenly placing animals on lush pasture in the spring Erratic behavior after being put on lush pasture None Magnesium supplements to fertilize pastures; feed dry hay before turning out
Parturient paresis Unknown Sudden onset 6–10 weeks prior to lambing, especially in heavy ewes: muscle tremors; stilted gait; down; death Calcium solution I.V. or under skin Good dietary management
Photosensitization Light colored skin that has a hyperactive reaction to sunlight Reddening and fluid (edema) in the skin. Graze at night; steroids Affected animals should not be used as breeders
Some breeds of sheep (Southdowns and Corriedales) have a defect existing in liver metabolism that prevents substances that predis- pose the animal to photosensitization from being eliminated in the usual way. Sheep of these breeds showing this trait should not be used as breeders.
White muscle disease Selenium deficiency Stiff gait, arched back unable to rise Selenium injections Selenium supplement in feed
Pregnancy toxemia, ovine ketosis Any factor that disrupts feed intake in fat ewes carrying twins late in pregnancy Nervous signs, inability to get on their feet; coma Propylene glycol, steroids induce abortions, glucose Induce exercise; feed away from shelter; avoid stressful  situations where possible
INFECTIOUS BACTERIAL DISEASES 
Tetanus Bacteria: Clostridium tetani Often follows surgical procedures in early life; “saw-horse” appearance. None Administer tetanus antitoxin; later give toxoid
Overeating disease Clostridium types C, D Sudden death, especially in weaned lambs on full feed No effective treatment Bacterin to those on full feed
VIRAL DISEASES 
Bluetongue Bluetongue virus spread by biting flies Difficult breathing; reddening of muzzle, lips, ears; ulcer, erosions of mouth None Vaccine in affected areas only
 OPP (ovine progressive pneumonia) Retrovirus Very slowly progressing disease in mature animals; slow, wasting disease None Test and slaughter program; isolate lambs at birth, and feed milk from known-negative ewes 
Sore mouth, contagious ecthyma Poxvirus Lesions on lips, sometimes feet. None Recovered sheep highly resistant; vaccine available
Scrapie (Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) Prion (structure smaller than a virus) Loss of wool, intense itching, altered gait; loss of condition in sheep usually over 2 years None Test and slaughter
“Black disease” (infectious necrotic hepatitis) Clostridium novyi Sudden death; toxin produced by organism, together with liver flukes, which have already damaged the liver. None Toxoid (vaccine) in fluke region
Mastitis Often Streptococcus or Staphylococcus species Hot, swollen udder; Abnormal secretion None Antibiotics; hot packs; frequent stripping
Strawberry foot rot Fungus (actinomycete): Dermatophilus congalensis Sores in lower leg Penicillin variants Self-limiting
Scours Escherichia coli Profuse diarrhea in newborn Fluids to combat dehydration; antitoxemia drugs, antibiotics Dip navels in iodine; strict sanitation in lambing pens
Joint ill Erysipelothis rhusiopathiae Swollen joints and some- times navel Penicillin variants Dip navels, strict clean- liness when castrating or docking
PARASITIC DISEASES There are a wide range of parasites that affect sheep. Some invade various parts of the digestive tract while lungworms settle in the lungs.

Goats

 

 INFECTIOUS 
DISEASE

 CAUSE   SYMPTOMS   TREATMENT   PREVENTION 
CAE (caprine arthri- tis and encephalitis) Lentivirus Encephalitis in young goats, arthritis in adults None Butazolidin in arthritic form; remove kids from doe immediately after birth and feed pasteurized colostrum
Abscesses Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosi Abscess formation around head and neck. None
Urinary calculi (esp. in pet wethers) Metabolic imbalance Urinate with difficulty or not at all Surgery to create artificial opening Feed diet with calcium-phosphorus ratio of 2:1; add ammonium chloride to diets; keep magnesium level low
Mastitis Several different bacteria Abnormal milk ranging from watery to bloody Variety of antibiotic preparations infused into udder; may need to run antibiotic sensitivity test to determine the best choice Strict sanitation during the milking process; clean bedding and in general clean environment
Goats are subject to much the same range of diseases as are sheep. The management of the various conditions follows the lines fol- lowed in sheep.

Pigs

 

 INFECTIOUS 
DISEASE

 CAUSE   SYMPTOMS   TREATMENT   PREVENTION 
Metabolic and nutritional iron deficiency Milk naturally deficient in iron Symptoms of anemia None Administer iron to newborn by injection; keep sod in pen
Hypoglycemia Any factor that limits piglets’ milk intake, especially during first week of life Low body temperature; listless; unresponsive Give glucose intraperitoneally  Be sure sow has enough milk; that all piglets are getting their share; keep warm and dry
MMA or Mastitis- metritusagalactia syndrome (lactation failure in sows) Not understood at this time, a complex interaction of many factors Piglets show signs of starvation; piglets depressed; increased temperatures; sows listless; refuse to let piglets nurse Corticosteroids and broadspectrum antibiotics Good management practices; place piglets on foster sow if available
BACTERIA, SPIROCHETES, AND VIRUSES
Bacterial brucellosis (a disease transmis- sible to man, especially when handling infected carcasses at slaughter) Brucella suis Abortion: temporary or permanent sterility: lameness None Test and slaughter
Atrophic rhinitis A complex disease with many contributing factors Twisted snout may be end result Several drugs effective including trimethoprim, tylocin, and tetracycline Keeping a closed herd; good sanitation
Enteric colibacillosis Escherichia coli Profuse watery diarrhea in young pigs Restore fluid level; antibiotics as determined by sensitivity, previous experience Avoid chilling and dampness; vaccinations of sows to increase level of necessary antibodies
Enteritis Clostridium perfringens, Type C Bloody diarrhea in piglets, 1–5 days None

Vaccination of pregnant sows is of some value to increase value of colostrum in affording protection

Edema Escherichia coli Disease of young pigs 5–14 days after weaning; rapid death; wobbly; paddling of legs; head twist Antibiotics may help Gradual change of feed from creep feed to weaning ration
Erysipelas Erysipelothrix rhusipathiae Several different forms of this disease: (1) sudden death; high temperature, walking stiffly or remain lying down; (2) may show skin discolorations as “diamond skin disease”; (3) arthritis; (4) heart valve involvement Penicillin variants Vaccination
Leptospirosis (may act as reservoir to cause infection in man) Leptospira pomona Abortions; being off feed; listlessness None Vaccinations
Mycoplasma pneumonia
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae Coughing, mild pneumonia; greatest problems: poor feed utilization and growth rate Tylocin, Tetracycline Establishment of disease-free herds
Pleuropneumonia Haemophilus pleuropneumoniae May be very severe with sudden deaths, especially in young pigs; extremely difficult breathing; high fatality rate Several antibiotics have been suggested, including Tylocin and Trimethoprim

All-in, all-out management (all pigs in a group introduced simultaneously into area where they will be raised and later removed simultaneously)

Salmonellosis Salmonella cholerasuis Nursing pigs have diarrhea but die from septicemia; older pigs have bloody diarrhea Some antibiotics may be of value, but no drastic changes may be seen   Intensive clean-up after outbreaks
Swine dysentery Treponema hyodysenteriae (a spirochete) A mucous, bloody diarrhea is the most common symptom  Do antibiotic sensitivity test and determine best antibiotic, which might include bacitracin, lincomycin, and others  Good sanitation; treatment of carrier pigs
Tuberculosis (a disease transmissable from animal to man) Mycobacterium species. Pigs are susceptible to three types: cattle, bird, and man Lymph gland involvement: a wasting disease None Good management (e.g. cleanliness, good ventilation)
VIRUSES
Hog cholera (no longer present in USA), now more properly called “classical swine fever” (CSF) DNA virus Lethargy; off feed; high temperature Hyperimmune serum  Vaccinations not always effective; worldwide test-and-slaughter policy in effect for any animals that test positive
Pseudorabies, “mad itch” Herpes virus. The pig acts as a reservoir for the virus, which is highly fatal in other species such as cattle and sheep In piglets, may see fever, trembling, convulsions; symptoms become progressively less severe as pig grows older None Bring in replacements from disease-free herds; segregation; isolation
Swine influenza, hog flu Type A influenza virus Rapidly spread throughout entire herd; high temperature; off feed; coughing; prostration None Good management with a stress-free environment
TGE (transmissible gastroenteritis) Coronavirus Vomiting followed by profuse, watery diarrhea; highly fatal in very young pigs, much less so in older pigs None Vaccinations
PARASITES Those worms affecting the stomach and intestinal tract of pigs can be controlled by the same types of medications used in other species. There are some worms peculiar to swine that should be mentioned.
Kidney worm infestation Stephanurus dentatus Pigs tend to be “poor doers”; economic loss from contamination of affected organs and tissues None Maintain clean environtment; rotate stock to keep herd young through “gilts-only” breeding program. 
Trichinosis Trichanella spiralis Primarily a public health problem where insufficiently cooked, infected meat is eaten
None Garbage containing pork should be cooked at 212° F for 30 min- utes before being fed to swine, or not feed at all

Calves

 

 INFECTIOUS 
DISEASE

 CAUSE   SYMPTOMS   TREATMENT   PREVENTION 
Colibacillosis Escherichia coli Diarrhea; dehydration; weakness; death  Electrolytes, fluids, antibiotics   Buy calves from reputable sources; avoid stress; keep isolated; draft-free, well ventilated housing (calf hutch excellent)
Pneumonia   Various bacteria and viruses Cough; difficulty breathing; off feed; fever  Fluids, antibiotics