Defense is the Best Offense Against Overeating Disease
Develop a strategic disease prevention game plan for your herd
DULUTH, Ga. (February 16, 2021) — Losing an animal is never easy,
especially when it feels as if it happened out of the blue. One culprit may be
enterotoxaemia, more commonly referred to as overeating disease.
may show clinical signs of depression, go off feed, become lethargic, and
possibly have scours, but most often overeating disease causes sudden death,”
said DL Step, DVM, Boehringer Ingelheim. “It can be extremely challenging to
diagnose and treat the disease before it’s too late, so it’s critical to have
preventive measures in place.”
also depends on the type of operation or phase of production cattle are in.
When developing a management and prevention game plan for your herd, consider
the following strategies:
Protect young calves in the nursing phase
organisms are normally found in small numbers in a calf’s digestive tract. If a
sudden or abrupt change in the animal’s environment occurs, such as a calf
being separated from its dam for an extended period, the calf may consume an
excess amount of milk when reintroduced to its dam. The clostridial organisms
may then start to reproduce and release toxins that could be deadly to the
“When a calf is
separated from their mother for a prolonged period of time, it is likely that
the calf will overconsume or gorge on milk when reunited,” said Dr. Step. “It’s
crucial to manage nursing and minimize the amount of time a calf is separated
from its mother to prevent overeating disease.”
Monitor dietary changes in older cattle
disease in older cattle is typically related to a higher carbohydrate or starch
diet,” added Dr. Step. “High levels or quantities of carbohydrates can result
in the proliferation of clostridial bacteria, producing potent toxins.”
Dr. Step recommends
introducing feeds gradually and being aware of diet consistency in order to
prevent the disease.
Defense is the best offense
To reduce the
risk of fatalities caused by overeating disease, Dr. Step recommends
vaccinating with a single-dose, seven-way clostridial vaccine.
A single-dose vaccine not only decreases labor costs and logistical challenges,
but also lessens stress on a herd.
calves early in life will promote immunity to the toxin and protect calves. It
is also recommended to vaccinate dams at pregnancy to help improve colostrum to
get the calf off to a strong start.
occur when producers stop vaccinating their cattle against clostridial
diseases. It is easy to become more relaxed about preventive health protocols
following a period without observing the disease,” continued Dr. Step. “With
death usually being the first clinical sign of the disease, it is critical to
continue vaccinations to keep your herd protected.”
vaccinated under 3 months of age should be revaccinated at weaning or 4-6
months of age. Work with your veterinarian to create a prevention plan that
fits your operation’s management style.