If you own cattle, you know that they come with their own considerations, just like any other animal. Whether you’re a seasoned rancher or are just starting to grow your farm, we want to share some of the most common cattle wounds that your animals may experience and how to fix them.
Five of the Most Common Wounds in Cattle
Abscesses are pockets of infections that can occur when bacteria gets under the skin or cow udders. This can happen if cattle come into contact with a contaminated wire, claw, tooth, or nail. Usually, abscesses present themselves as small spheres that eventually break through the skin and rupture. Although abscesses may look minor at first, they can make an animal sick if the infection spreads to the surrounding tissues or bloodstream. An abscess may not appear for up to a week after the initial injury.
If you find that your cattle animal has an abscess, the first thing to do is clean the wound vigorously to open it and pressure it to drain it. Be gentle and don’t force anything; otherwise, you run the risk of forced infected pus into the bloodstream. Oral or injected antibiotics should be administered, as well.
After draining, apply a heat pack to the wound to encourage more drainage. Always make sure to keep the wound clean and talk to your vet before taking significant action.
Flystrike is another common wound in cattle. Flystrike occurs when fly larvae (or maggots) hatch on animals’ skin and feed on their skin tissue. Although it is most common in young calves, it can affect older cattle, as well. Flies lay their eggs in moist fur or wool. Serious cases of flystrike can lead to secondary infections, septicemia, or toxemia. It’s also more common during warm, wet weather as this weather is ideal for flies to lay their eggs.
The first thing to do to treat flystrike is to cut any matted or moist hair and wool and remove the maggots. You may be able to use insecticides or larvicides to kill the remaining maggots. Antibiotics like penicillin or oxytetracycline may also help treat this cattle wound. Always talk to your vet before giving your animal a new medication.
Mange can affect cattle and humans alike and refers to infections caused by mites. Mites can inhabit and damage an animal’s skin, causing hair loss and itchy lesions. Some mites feed on the skin’s surface, which causes the animal to scratch the area and irritate it. Some mites burrow deeper into the skin, which causes an even more intense reaction. In this case, skin damage can develop more rapidly and larger areas can be affected.
Treatment for mange depends on the severity of the case. In some cases, a topical wound care treatmentl can help speed up the recovery of skin wounds. In more severe cases, injectable products may be a better bet. You can also combine more than one strategy to really eradicate the problem.
Of course, open wounds are always going to be an issue for cattle when they are living outside and come into contact with other animals and environmental risks. Open wounds can be caused by a fight with another animal, running into something that can poke your cattle, dangerous living environments, or just an accident.
If you notice that one of your cows has an open wound and is actively bleeding, the first thing to do is to put direct pressure on the wound. Call your vet if it’s a more serious injury. After applying pressure, you can use a topical wound treatment l to speed up recovery and keep the wound clean. When it comes to healing open wounds in cattle, moisture is key. A moist wound heals faster, so make sure to keep it clean and apply these topical solutions as needed.
Foot rot is an infectious disease in cattle that can cause lameness, swelling, pain, and much more. It happens when the animal’s skin is injured, making it easier for bacteria to enter the foot’s tissue. This infection can spread to the connective tissues, tendons, joints, and foot bones.
When treating foot rot, most medical professionals will start by administering antibiotics. They may also perform local treatment, including foot trimming, topical medications, or even amputation in extreme cases. In order to prevent foot rot, make sure you are taking care of your cattle’s environment diligently and giving them the proper foot hygiene. This includes doing regular footbaths, limiting the amount of standing water near feed bunks, cleaning out the manure regularly, and monitoring your cattle for signs of foot rot.
Cattle, just like other pets, run the risk of wounds and other conditions. Do your part to prevent these and other incidents by keeping your animals’ area clean, understanding how to diagnose , and keeping them clean, healthy, and well-fed with a nutritious diet. Always monitor for anything out of the ordinary and call your vet if you suspect something’s wrong.
Reviewed by Dan Richardson, Veterinarian
Dan Richardson has been a practicing veterinarian for over 10 years. He specializes in surgery and orthopedics. Dan is originally from rural western Nevada and attended the University of Idaho for undergraduate study and Oregon State University for Veterinary School. The Richardson Family enjoys camping and spending time on the water fishing, paddle boarding, or digging their feet in the sand somewhere warm.