cattle diseases

Australia is remarkably free of diseases affecting beef cattle. Since 1970 Tuberculosis and Brucellosis eradication campaigns have reduced the infection to the extent that they are only found in the tropical north where feral buffalo have slowed down eradication measures. Cattle ticks persist in the northern areas where the industry relies on dipping to control and contain the problem.

Australia is free from major exotic diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Rabies and Virulent Blue Tongue. There are few "killer" diseases.

In South Australia, the main problems are caused by the internal parasite ostertagia, bloat and the metabolic problem of grass tetany. Clostridial vaccines are used by producers in the temperate regions to prevent Tetanus, Pulpy Kidney, Black Leg, Black Disease and Malignant Oedema. Cows are vaccinated prior to calving and calves at 6-8 weeks and again 6-8 weeks later.


Bloat usually develops suddenly. The rumens of affected animals become blown up with gas from foaming feed. This problem is more frequent when cattle are grazed on legumes such as lucerne or white clover.

The farmer can spray the pasture with oils, graze the cattle in the early morning when there is dew on the pasture or administer penicillin as a control measure.


CAB is caused by bacteria which enters through the mouth and lives in the udder. Cows carry the bacteria spreading it to other cows. It can be detected with a blood test.


Mastitis is the inflammation of the udder and is frequently found in dairy cows. It is cured by using oils containing penicillin.


Tuberculosis can be passed onto humans by drinking milk from infected cows. It cannot be cured in cattle and therefore, all dairy cattle are tested and if found positive, are slaughtered. The pasteurization of milk kills the TB bacteria.


Milk fever strikes cows just before calving but cows are not affected until they have had 2 calves. It can be treated with inoculations.