Horses can develop infections in the lungs, also known as pneumonia, which can compromise their athletic ability and may even be life threatening. | File photo

Pneumonia in horses can compromise athletic ability

Through evolution, horses have developed a tremendous capacity for running at sustained, high speeds. To meet these athletic demands, horses have remarkably large lungs and heart. Those organs must be healthy. With each heartbeat, blood courses through the lungs, exhausting carbon dioxide and refreshing its oxygen load before travelling around the blood vessels to oxygenate […] Read more

This external parasite releases a neurotoxin through its mouthparts that can paralyze livestock. 
In certain areas of the country it can be a major health problem in cattle. | File photo

Tick paralysis increasing in cattle

Ticks are being found in increasing frequency in our food-producing animals and domestic pets. They cause concerns because some species carry transmissible diseases that can affect humans, such as Lyme disease. Others cause blood-loss irritation and others cause paralysis. The most commonly found tick on cattle in Western Canada is the Rocky Mountain wood tick […] Read more

Poison, infectious disease and predators are some of the possibilities to examine when large numbers of wild birds die suddenly.  |  File photo

Outbreaks of sudden death in wild birds tough to solve

It is a sight no one wishes to see. This winter, more than 50 dead ducks were discovered in one of Calgary’s parks. The people who found them were understandably upset. They were also concerned about the cause. Could it be poison? Or an outbreak of some type of infectious disease? Did a deadly bird […] Read more


A recent study found that 97 percent of cow-calf producers vaccinate their cattle with at least one type of vaccine.  |  File photo

Vaccine use rises in western Canadian cow-calf herds

Recent measles outbreaks in North America and Europe have occurred as vaccination rates of children drop off due to anti-vaccination movements. I’m glad we don’t have a major anti-vaccination movement in the beef industry. In fact, we now have some evidence that the opposite trend is occurring. A recent study in the latest issue of […] Read more

Making improvements to chutes and corrals is one of the ways that cattle producers can make their operations more efficient and economical.  |  File photo

Ways to save time and labour in cow-calf operations

Time and labour are often in short supply at cow-calf operations, but there are ways producers can save both, while also saving a bit of money. Drones should be used on most larger operations for checking cattle, checking fences, checking watering troughs, finding lost cattle and identifying sick ones. Drones are quick and the images […] Read more


The normal right kidney in horses (above, left) is heart-shaped. Horse urine is normally cloudy yellow, as seen in this dissected bladder.   |  Jamie Rothenburger photos

Kidney disease in horses is a rare but serious condition

In the animal world, cats are the species most often affected by chronic kidney disease. But slow deterioration of the kidney can occur in any animal, including horses. Kidneys are vital organs that have many important bodily functions. This pair of dark red organs sits tucked up along the lower back. They filter out nitrogen […] Read more

Abnormalities can affect any system in the body and range in severity. | File photo

Abnormal development results in many calf problems

With calving season upon us again, I’ve been reflecting on the wide range of things that can go wrong in fetal development. Abnormalities can affect any system in the body and range in severity. The most serious and severe abnormalities cause spontaneous abortion or neonatal death. Others are mundane and are only detected by chance. […] Read more

Some of the adaptations that make horses so athletic probably predispose them to fatal injuries such as this ruptured aorta, which is a major blood vessel.  | University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine photo

Physiological adaptation makes horses top athletes

Among animals, horses are remarkably adapted to thrive in a wide variety of climates and environments, including some of the more extreme places on Earth. For example, a herd of horses occupies Sable Island, one of Canada’s newest national parks. The horses have lived on the island off the coast of Nova Scotia since the […] Read more


Nervous cows are less likely to reinitiate uterine contractions.  |  File photo

Lack of contractions in calving cows has various causes

There have been several instances during my career when an unexplained delay in calving has resulted in stillborn or weak calves because the calving process was too long. I would guess that most producers have run into this problem at one time or another. Although not much research has been done on the subject and […] Read more

Udder edema is particularly prevalent in dairy cows.  | File photo

Knowing when to treat is crucial when udder edema cases appear

Producers sometimes have trouble recognizing udder edema. It is fluid accumulation within the udder and teats and ahead of the udder as bred cattle (primarily heifers) get close to giving birth. The fluid entrapment can lead to an uncomfortable condition and has the potential to cause mastitis. It could also impair long-term milk production. Udder […] Read more