Internal biosecurity has always been important on swine farms by preventing movement of the pathogen within the farrowing rooms. | File photo

New vaccine technology helps control diarrhea in piglets

It’s frustrating for veterinarians to try and make a definitive diagnosis of an ongoing health challenge if they lack the tools in the toolbox to help the situation. One such disease of young suckling piglets is Rotaviral enteritis (diarrhea). Rotavirus: the organism While there are many devastating viral diarrheas on western Canadian pig farms, Rotavirus […] Read more

Good disinfectants are necessary for every farm and ranch. | File photo

Biosecurity farm practices are often just common sense

With the arrival of calving season, now is the time to talk about biosecurity. Just like we have learned principles to prevent the spread and contraction of COVID-19 between humans, similar principles apply to most infectious diseases in livestock production. The diseases vary between species, but many principles remain the same. Cleaning and disinfection in […] Read more

The health measures that have been put in place to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus also apply to animal agriculture, such as during calving season when neighbours are discouraged from visiting farms because of the potential for calf scours to spread.  | File photo

Animal health emergencies share similarities with COVID

I want to talk about two potential threats in Canada — foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever. Both possess huge threats from an animal health perspective. There is no doubt COVID-19 has made the average consumer more aware of how viral transmission occurs, plus the steps we can take to mitigate its spread. The amount […] Read more


The cattle industry has made huge strides in cattle handling during the last decade or more. | File photo

Cattle movement benefits from quality stockmanship

With the fall run in full swing, I’ve had the opportunity to be at a number of feedlots where they were processing fall calves. As I watched the processing crews, I was impressed at the stockmanship that I witnessed. There was no shouting, everybody was calm and quiet and animals were moved through the system […] Read more

Careful attention to feed and avoiding unnecessary grain supplementation is an important starting point when managing ponies’ diets.  | File photo

Managing weight in ponies critical for optimum health

It is tempting to classify ponies as small horses and treat them the same. They are the same species, Equus ferus caballus, but the smallest equines in our care have some unique characteristics that require particular attention for optimum health. Ponies are especially good at using their groceries to put on weight, making obesity a […] Read more


After years of being involved in various disease outbreaks in cow-calf herds, I estimate about 80 percent of them have nutritional deficiencies or toxicities as part of the root cause of the disease outbreak.
 | File photo

Copper deficiency in spring can lead to reproductive losses

It has been a relatively busy spring for our Disease Investigation Unit at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon. The cases we’ve seen include scenarios of lead toxicity, abortions and several cases of unusual disease syndromes in young calves including neurological disease and blindness. After years of being involved in various disease outbreaks […] Read more

Clostridial bacteria often behind horse intestinal ills

In my previous column, I discussed clostridial infections in the muscles of horses, most often following injections, that can lead to the disease known as malignant edema. In addition to serious muscle infections, clostridial bacteria can also be an important cause of intestinal disease in foals and adult horses. Two main species are involved, clostridium […] Read more

Move to early sales may force producers to recheck bulls

Purebred bull sales in all breeds appear to be getting earlier and earlier, some even happening in December. This is months before many cattle producers are going to use them in their breeding programs. It sometimes creates difficulty for veterinarians to get the bulls’ semen evaluated ahead of time. Sellers and buyers of these bulls […] Read more


S. suis infection in weaned pigs can result in heart valve infections that cause lesions, which vets often call “cauliflower heart,” seen here in the middle of the photo. Blood backs up into the lungs, resulting in congestive heart failure.  |  Western College of Veterinary Medicine/Dr. Ted Clark photo

Streptococcus suis is common and deadly on hog farms

Many health challenges come and go within pig populations. Recently we have had a lot of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus on Manitoba hog farms. Influenza virus and porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus are also a frequent challenge on some farms. African swine fever gets a lot of attention around the world. One disease that […] Read more

A number of strategies have been developed in an attempt to reduce the stress of weaning.  |  File photo

Reduced weaning stress is important goal for producers

If you drive into many small towns on the Prairies with a livestock auction yard at this time of year, you might be greeted by the chorus of bawling calves. Most of these calves are headed to feedlots after being recently weaned at their home ranches. Weaning is a stressful event for calves and it […] Read more