Developing Story: Concerns Rise as Cows Fall Ill in Texas

Developing Story: Concerns Rise as Cows Fall Ill in Texas

Dairy farmers are reporting sick cattle in the Panhandle of Texas. Symptoms vary, but a consistent part of the reports is a drop in milk production ranging, on average, from 10-30 pounds per cow across the herd, according to Dr. Alexis Thompson with Texas A & M’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. A thick, gel-like milk, resembling mastitis, has been observed in the sick cows. Some animals bounce back after being sick, returning to normal milk output, but some do not come back fully, and some come back very marginally. Some operators are choosing to cull cows that are no longer symptomatic but whose milk production does not return.

The extent of the problem is still under evaluation. Not every farm in the area is affected, and even among the impacted herds, only a portion of the cows are showing signs of illness, estimated at around 5-20%.

The cause of the mystery ailment is currently under investigation by Texas A & M University, Texas Animal Health, and the state veterinarian. Some in the industry have cited a common ailment, winter dysentery, as the likely disease, but tests have been negative. Others are proposing a potential toxin exposure, or another theory is that cows have been infected with a bacterial respiratory disease.

Nervousness regarding cow health and cattle numbers in this region, where significant processing infrastructure is slated to be added over the next two years, has likely contributed to the recent Class III rally over the past two days.

Click Here to view an update from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) on the “animal health situation”. Updated information is not yet posted to TAHC website or their Twitter page but was obtained by HighGround through various agencies that had received this letter directly from the Commission.