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


Monitoring and testing cattle can cost money, but it can also provide key information on when to initiate a procedure, drug, antibiotic or staff training.  |  Mike Sturk photo

Herd health monitoring can have beneficial results for producers

In beef cattle production, there are essential practices we must do to treat animals, and other practices that vary from region to region, pen to pen, or year to year. On some procedures, monitoring must be consistent to enable the producer and the herd veterinarian to set out specific points as to when to initiate […] Read more

The lungs of this horse are collapsed and red, indicating severe pneumonia (arrows) and a failure of the respiratory defenses.  |  Jamie Rothenburger photo

Lung defences needed for respiratory disease prevention

The respiratory system in animals serves a vital function — without the ability to breath, animals will succumb within minutes. Clean air with oxygen is breathed in through the nostrils and transported down the trachea and through the tree-like branches, where it enters the lungs. Here, oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide, refreshing the blood […] Read more

Warren Russell of the Stoughton, Sask., area has been charged under Section 4 of the province’s Animal Protection Act. That section prohibits anyone from causing an animal to be in distress or to continue to be in distress.
 | Photo supplied by Warren Russell

Sask. producer charged after cattle seizure

One person faces several charges after more than 300 cattle were seized from his farm last winter. Warren Russell of the Stoughton, Sask., area has been charged under Section 4 of the province’s Animal Protection Act. That section prohibits anyone from causing an animal to be in distress or to continue to be in distress. […] Read more


Final year veterinary students examine beehives as part of a national ecosystem health rotation.  |  Aron Nichols photo

Vet students learn about ecosystem influences on health

Veterinary students spend most of their final year in veterinary programs refining and practicing clinical skills. For cattle, this might entail working on pregnancy checking, perfecting bull testing, designing herd health programs and optimizing parasite control. In a variety of species, vet students practice surgical and anesthesia skills. But each year, a small group of […] Read more

Stress can bring on diseases caused by H. somni, which is why the stress of weaning and then commingling and transportation to auction markets or even directly to the feedlots seems to bring it on.
 | File photo

Stress can open the door for Histophilus somni bacteria

The disease organism known as Histophilus somni can cause many illnesses in feedlot cattle. This bacteria has been linked to pneumonia, arthritis, ITEME (infectious thrombo-embolic-meningo-encephalitis), as well as septicemia and heart failure. Stress can bring on diseases caused by H. somni, which is why the stress of weaning and then commingling and transportation to auction […] Read more