Ranchers can’t always tell if they have a sick animal in their herd. That’s because, as prey animals, they don’t want predators to know they’re sick, so they’ve become pretty good at masking symptoms. That means you have to know what normal looks like so you can watch for small differences in behavior.
Luckily, there are little cues that can tell you an animal needs help, according to Lisa Lunn of the University of Alaska – Fairbanks.
As Lunn points out, animals that separate themselves from the herd, are dirty from spending more time laying down, and have droopy ears and snotty noses are providing cues that they’re not feeling well.
Animals also quit eating when they’re not feeling well. Since a rancher can’t always see if an animal isn’t eating, Lunn says you can look for some evidence, including:
- If the triangular area that overlays the rumen is sunken, that animal hasn’t been eating enough.
- If the triangular area that overlays the rumen is swollen or the animal is bloating, a rancher should call a veterinarian immediately.
- A skin pinch test or looking at the animal’s eyes can show whether dehydration is present.
- Difficulty urinating can indicate a potentially fatal urinary tract obstruction.
- Loose or runny manure could also be a sign of illness.
Having a good relationship with a veterinarian is extremely valuable when animals do get sick.
Watch the video to learn how take an animal’s temperature and heart rate, do a skin pinch test to check for dehydration, and how to check an animal’s nose or watch its chest as it breathes and compare it to this chart to confirm or weed out pneumonia.
Download the Livestock Temperature, Heart Rate and Respiratory Rate Guide below.