Concerns about all the recent animal diseases??? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We will be getting our animals for the new homestead soon and I am a bit concerned about all the diseases that are showing up in animals. Everything from mad cow disease to hoof and mouth, etc. Is anyone else concerned or am I over reacting? Are animals on the homestead still prone to these diseases since they aren't usually doing anywhere and not mass produced, etc. like in the big farms? I know mad cow disease does not show up for several years sometimes. Also, any tips on where and where not to buy livestock along the the same lines would be appreciated -- but how do you know where your animals has been or where it's relatives where to pass on some those diseases? Moving to a new area where I know not one single person in the whole state(and they don't know me either -- sucker coming your way!!) and have no experience with local producers, etc. I am kind of worried. Thanks a million!

-- Karen (, July 26, 2001


Hi Karen:

Whew! These are big questions.

First, the animal diseases issue: what you'll find on the farm is considerably different than what you hear in the media. It's fine to be concerned about the POSSIBILITY of dire illnesses -- but the most common and most serious killer of livestock is still....INTESTINAL WORMS. (The second highest killer dogs.) I've been on the farm in a cattle-raising area for almost 20 years, and have never seen a case of mad cow, scrapie, or any of the "popular" diseases. Be aware and alert, but don't be paranoid!

We have sheep, goats, horses, pigs, chickens, geese, dogs, dogs, dogs, and our herds are "closed" -- that is, we haven't brought in a new animal in years. This clearly would limit the exposure to new disease threats coming from someone else's sick animals. If I was going to purchase a new animal today, I'd try to find another closed (and healthy) farm to buy from.

When you go to acquire your new livestock, I would only suggest that you purchase "off the farm" -- and totally AVOID livestock auctions. You don't need purebreds yet, but when you go shopping, look at the farm surroundings and the other animals that are present. Ask about the veterinary care your potential animal has required (has it had shots? what kind? why are they selling it? what is its production record - milk/offspring? has the animal been ill?). Become familiar with what a healthy animal looks like: bright eyes, no runny nose, fur in good shape, no strange lumps or bumps, etc.

When you buy your first chickens, your safest bet is to go to a professional hatchery -- all the chicks will arrive guaranteed free of common diseases.

Good luck with your new animals!

-- Anita Evangelista (, July 26, 2001.

Karen, I think Anita has it right. Avoid livestock auctions where the animals are run through an auction barn. Not only would you be getting someone else's problem animals (sometimes hidden problems) but you've got everyone's bacteria marching through there. As far as mad cow and foot and mouth, in the US I wouldn't worry about it. There's no mad cow disease here and it's going to be a long time before it does get here, if ever. As for foot and mouth, it certainly wouldn't hurt to ask if anyone on the farm you're buying from has been to Europe or South America lately. That's where any outbreaks that I've heard of are located. But if I were buying a cow locally, I wouldn't have a second thought of it. I'd be worrying more about buying from a herd that had a vicious strain of mastitis or getting an animal that wouldn't breed, etc. Another place I wouldn't buy an animal from is from a cattle dealer. That's the same as buying through an auction barn, perhaps even worse. If you are moving to a new place I'd start asking about who you might buy from at a local feed store. And I'd get the names of the local large animal vets there, as well, that deal with dairy animals. Then call and ask them if they have any ideas. And your new neighbors will be a great source of help, especially if they are farmers themselves. Anyone that you will be dealing with in the future are good ones to question. Besides, people love to be asked for an opinion, plus it's a great way to introduce yourself to all of these folks. You'll be doing two things at once. :) Good luck, and don't worry. :)

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, July 26, 2001.

Karen, if you contact your local County Extension Service they'll help you out with what's happening in your area and have a talk with a large animal Vet in your area. You should get a pretty good idea by this of the common dangers in your part of the country. Good Luck! :-)

-- Little Quacker (, July 26, 2001.

Mad Cow has not been in this country....yet. Hoof and mouth isn't what the media has made it out to be.

Some might say you're over-reacting, but when you're new to something it's not unusual. Perhaps 'concerned' would be a better word! :^)

If you want to have healthy stock in general, don't purchase from auctions, swap meets, shows, etc. Reputable breeders are the safest way to go.

I've had livestock for many years and haven't given much thought to 'what ifs.' It's a drain of energy and adds stress to worry about something you can't control. In 25 years, I've had the vet out only a couple of times for sickness of large livestock. I've never had a sick fowl, nor a sick dog. -knock wood!- Well, I did lose a dog to a Mojave Green (snakebite), but that's not really 'sickness.' Read and learn all you can about the critters you want and come up with a good all around program.

When I move to a new area, one of the first things I do is make an appointment with and interview the vets and make a decision who I'm going to use, even tho it's been a rarity that I use them. Better to be prepared. I moved to Texas in recent years and the vet changed my critter's deworming schedule. Same products, he just changed the months around since that's when those particular parasites are a problem in this area.

Nutrition and space are two things that help to keep critters healthy. Crowd them into tiny pens and sure as shootin,' you'll have disease, fighting, and all kinds of bad habits. Cut corners with feeding and the results show up negatively.

Once you get the hang of it, it all will be a breeze. I can't imagine living without those critters out there.

-- ~Rogo (, July 27, 2001.

I applaud you Karen! Very few folks look into the stock they are getting before they just go and get it, finding out to late that they were probably not purchasing wisely. For each kind of stock you choose to have, there are tons of forums on them. Goats, chickens, horses, donkeys, llamas, sheep, just go to and do some searches. Visit as many places as you can before you purchase, take some real time with housing and fencing before you purchase. Always go with stock that in the long run will make you some money, in the sale to others of their offspring! Always think in the terms of quality instead of quantity! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (, July 27, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ