Preventing & Treating Health Issues in Farm Animals

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Have you ever wondered if taking care of our health is similar to taking care of farm animal health? Get your answer as we discuss vaccinations, parasite prevention, and appropriate maintenance to prevent health issues in farm animals.

Protecting Farm Animals

What do you do to protect your health? I'm pretty sure you practice basic hygiene to make sure you don't get some nasty skin infection. You probably also keep your house clean of germs and get vaccinations to stave off various diseases. And if you notice a tick on your body, you remove it promptly.

Well, don't be too surprised when I say that we do this and much more for farm animals in order to maintain their health as well. Let's go over some examples and how they pertain to the health of animals like cattle, sheep, goats, horses, and so forth.


When you're a little kid, and even an adult, you get vaccinations, which are injections of dead or very weak microorganisms that cause your immune system to build defensive measures. These defenses will protect you if you are ever infected by the live and strong version of the microorganism. We do this for farm animals as well because we don't want them to suffer or die from disease. Farmers don't want to lose important sources of revenue and the consumers don't want to lose a source of food, wool, leather, and so on.

For instance, cattle get vaccinated against something called Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR), which is essentially a really bad flu with more severe consequences. In less severe forms of the disease, cattle may produce less milk. In more severe cases, the cattle develop secondary bacterial infections that lead to pneumonia and death. Both reduced milk yield and death are clearly not conducive to a producer's bottom line nor a consumer's ability to find quality sources of nutrition (milk and meat). That's why we vaccinate these guys!

Internal & External Parasites

Besides vaccinations, we also need to control the internal and external parasites of our farm animals. Internal parasites include intestinal worms, who may suck the blood out of the animal from the inside or cause diarrhea while giving nothing beneficial in return. This can cause the animal to develop everything from malnutrition to anemia, and lead to poor milk yield, bad quality wool, and so on. Thus, producers use dewormers, medications that help kill intestinal worms in farm animals to help control these intestinal parasites.

External parasites like fleas, ticks, flies, and so on, can also cause lots of problems. They can introduce diseases or damage the quality of the animal's skin or fur. External sprays, dips, or topical medication can be used to help control them.

Foot Care, Housing, & Cleaning

Animals can also have a whole host of health issues largely caused by people, not nature. For example, horses can develop respiratory problems if they are housed in barns or stalls where there is a lot of dust. Thus, adequate ventilation systems are a must.

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