Read the latest information on
It is essential that producers and staff working with livestock can recognise signs of illness and disease. While it is not necessary for all staff to remember the signs of every disease and illness, it is important that everyone is able to recognise when something is wrong and who to notify, for example, your local or district vet. In the event of an emergency animal disease (EAD) such as foot and mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD), early detection is key, and we all have a role to play in protecting our livestock industries.
We can learn a lot from observing the behaviour of our livestock. In the case of herd animals like sheep and cattle, healthy livestock will generally be curious and face you as you approach them. They will have clear eyes, normal posture and move without difficulty. Some non-specific signs of disease and illness to look out for include:
Recording the rectal temperatures of livestock can provide an opportunity for the early detection of a disease, with a high temperature (pyrexia) presenting as a common symptom of many EADs. Once you’ve called your vet to assess an animal you suspect may be sick, one of the first things they will do is take the animal’s temperature to get a better idea of the type of illness they may be suffering from.
Foot and Mouth Disease & Lumpy Skin Disease
Although Australia remains free from FMD and LSD, these emergency animal diseases remain topical in the media following recent outbreaks in Indonesia in 2022. Given the endemic status of both diseases in Indonesia, our livestock industries must remain vigilant. Below are some clinical signs of FMD and LSD, however, it is important to note that infected livestock may not always display these signs, and some signs may overlap with other diseases.
Clinical signs of FMD
The FMD virus affects cloven-hoofed animals, including sheep, cattle, pigs, goats and deer. In addition to the behavioural changes listed above, animals infected with the FMD virus may also display:
Animal Health Australia provides more information on FMD including further government and industry resources: https://animalhealthaustralia.com.au/foot-and-mouth-disease/
Furthermore, there are various government-produced FMD resources for livestock industry stakeholders so that you can keep yourself and your staff informed and prepared, including:
Clinical signs of LSD
LSD is an arboviral disease (spread by biting insects) solely affecting cattle and water buffalo. The most common signs include:
Unexplained and sudden deaths in livestock should always be treated with caution and immediately reported to your veterinarian or the emergency animal disease hotline on 1800 675 888.