Cattle Diseases and Parasites

Cattle Diseases and Parasites

Cattle diseases are classified according to their causative agents (germ) and method of spread.

There are three main causative agents (germs) namely;

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Protozoa

Signs of sickness in animals (cattle)

  • The animal is dull and has rough hair on the body.
  • The animal coughs and sneezes
  • There is diarrhoea.
  • The animal has difficulty in passing out urine and dung (faeces)
  • There is rise in body temperature and pulse rate.
  • The animal loses appetite for food (pasture)

Causes Of Sickness Of Diseases In Animals

  • Diseases in animals can be caused by lack of some nutrients in the animal’s diet.
  • Dirty environment and dirty food.
  • Physical injuries like cuts and wounds
  • Infectious by germs.

Signs of goods health in animals (cattle)

  • The animal feeds well i.e. have good appetite.
  • The eyes are clean and bright.
  • The animal walks steadily
  • The nose is cold and wet.
  • The hair is smooth and shining
  • The animal’s ears are warm and alert.
  • Urine and dung (feaces) is passed out without difficulty.

Ways routes of disease infection in animals

  • Direct contact with sick animals
  • Direct contact through food and water.

Types of Cattle Diseases

  • Bacterial diseases
  • Theses are diseases caused by bacteria


  • This is caused by bacillus anthracis bacterium.
  • It is an acute infectious disease which attacks cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and humans.

Signs And Symptoms

  • Oozing out of dark blood from natural opening
  • Death within 24 hours
  • Blown up stomach when animal dies

prevention and control

  • Treat early cases with antibiotics
  • Carcass of the animal should be completely burnt or buried.
  • Do not open the carcass of animals that are suspected to have died of anthrax.
  • Never eat meat of animals suspected to have died of anthrax.
  • Vaccinate animals every year.
  • Report suspected cases of anthrax.


It is an infectious bacterial disease that affects the mammary glands (teats and udder) of cattle, sheep, goats, bitches and humans.

Signs and symptoms

  • Milk turns watery or thick clots with blood and pus in it.
  • The udder and teats swell.
  • The cow rejects milking and sucking by the calf.
  • The affected udder gets dead and gives no milk.
  • Death of the animal may result.

Prevention and control

  • Treat early cases with antibiotics
  • Milk out teats and massage with warm water.
  • Ensure good hygiene when milking
  • Use disinfectants when milking
  • Use the right milking techniques

Calf Scour

It is an infectious disease caused by bacteria.

Attacks piglets, calves, kids, and humans.

Signs and symptoms

  • Profuse sharp smelling diarrhoea
  • Dullness and loss of appetite.
  • Slight rise in temperature
  • Sudden death in calves and piglets with blown up and hard stomachs

Prevention and control

  • Strict cleanliness must be observed in calf pens, kraals, pig stys etc.
  • Avoid damp wet conditions
  • Treat infected cases with antibodies.

Black quarter

It is an acute infectious disease caused by bacteria.

It attacks ruminants such as cattle, goats, and sheep.

Signs and symptoms

  • High fever
  • Shivering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Muscles are swollen and painful

Prevention and control

  • Vaccinate animals early
  • Never open carcass of animal that shows signs of black quarter
  • Burn or bury dead animals


It is an infectious disease of the lungs

It is caused by various types of bacteria and viruses.

Signs and symptoms

  • Difficult breathing and coughing due to congestion of bronchioles
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of body weight
  • The animal is reluctant to move dull and sleepy.
  • Loss of appetite
  • The animal’s temperature may be high or low.

Prevention and Control

  • Treat early cases of pneumonia with antibiotics
  • Keep building well ventilated, warm, and clean
  • Provide soft feeds and water.

Foot rot

  • It is caused by bacteria of fusiformis group.
  • It attacks hooves of all hoofed animals. This disease is usually common during wet weather.

Signs and symptoms

Hooves of animals swell making them lame.

Parts of hooves may contain pus and smell.

Prevention and control

  • Treat early cases of foot rot with antibiotics.
  • Trim affected hooves properly and isolate the animal
  • Provide animals with foot bath every week.
  • Routine trimming and examination of the feet.


  • It is an infectious disease caused by brucella abortus bacteria. It affects cattle, goats, sheep, and man.
  • It is spread through food contaminated with discharge from infected animals.

Signs and symptoms

Abortion in animals followed by brownish discharge from the vagina

The testicles swell

There is still births in cows

The placenta remains in the uterus (womb)

Prevention and control

  • Cull and slaughter the infected animal.
  • Vaccinate all young females especially cattle.
  • Don’t touch aborted foetus with bare hands.
  • Milk from infected animals should be boiled first.

Contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia

It is caused by bacteria discharge from the noses of infected animals

Prevention and control

Cull and slaughter all infected animals

Impose quarantine in case of an out break.

Early vaccination of the herd.

The disease has no treatment yet.


  • It is a chronic infectious disease caused by micro-bacterium Tuberculosis.
  • It is spread through inhalation of the bacteria.

Signs and symptoms of tuberculosis

  • Loss of appetite at advanced stages
  • Coughing and decrease in milk production

Prevention and control

Practicing good hygiene

Cull and slaughter infected animals.

Viral Diseases

These are diseases caused viruses, most viral diseases are;

Rinder pest (Capital letters)

  • It is a highly infectious disease caused by virus.
  • It attacks the membranes of the alimentary canal.
  • It can kill large number of animals.

Signs and symptoms

  • High fever
  • Severe dullness and loss of appetite
  • Serious diarrhea with blood stained cow dung.
  • The muzzles, nose and muscle become hot with fast breathing.
  • Rapid dehydration resulting in emaciation with sunken eyes.


This is an acute contagious disease of ruminants such as cattle, sheep, goats etc. it attacks the membranes of mouth and coronet.

Signs and symptoms

  • Fever, dullness and loss of appetite for pasture.
  • Serious salivation in the mouth
  • Lameness due to wounds on the cornet.
  • Painful blisters around the mouth, udder and between the hooves.
  • Emaciation
  • Reduced milk yield.

Prevention and control

  • Vaccinate animals
  • Affected animals should be slaughtered
  • Application of quarantine.

Nairobi sheep disease

This is an active viral disease of sheep and goats.

It is transmitted by the brown ear and bont ticks.

Signs and symptoms

  • High temperature.
  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal discharge
  • Rapid breathing
  • Abortion in ewes.

Prevention and control

  • No treatment
  • Control ticks to prevent the disease.


These are diseases which are mostly associated with blood sucking insects and ticks examples; Nagana (trypanosomiasis), East coast fever, Red water, Heart water.


It is caused by a protozoa transmitted by brown ear tick.  It attacks cattle, goats and sheep. 

Prevention and control

  • Isolate sick animals
  • cull and slaughter the sick animals
  • Add coccidiostat in feeds and water.

Signs and symptoms

  • High temperature
  • Constipation and dullness
  • Animal becomes anaemic
  • Animal licks soil
  • Presence of red blood pigments in the urine.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.

Prevention and control

  • Tick control by spraying and dipping
  • Inject animals with ant-babesia drugs.
  • Some respond with tetracycline antibiotics.


It is a serious protozoan disease spread by both the red-legged and brown ear ticks. It attacks cattle only especially the calves are vulnerable.

Signs and symptoms

  • There is rapid rise in temperature
  • Swollen lymph nodes especially along the delap.
  • There is general body weakness.
  • Difficulty in breathing.

Prevention and control

  • Burning areas affected with ticks.
  • Fencing farms to prevent stray animals.
  • Spraying and dipping animals regularly.
  • Controlled grazing
  • Smearing animals with a carcides
  • Deticking by hands
  • Antibiotics and sulphur drugs are used to control secondary infections.


  • It is caused by a protozoan
  • It is transmitted by the blue ticks.

Signs and symptoms

  • The animal gets constipation.
  • Blood in urine and dung (feaces)
  • The animal becomes anaemic
  • The temperature may fall.


  • It is an infectious protozoan disease of animals such as cattle, goats, dogs and horses.
  • In man, the disease is called sleeping sickness. It is transmitted by a tsetsefly and caused by a germ called Trypanosoma (e.g. t. Virax, t.congolese, t. bruscei)

Signs and symptoms

  • Fever, dullness and loss of appetite
  • Anaemia and emaciation
  • Licking of soil by Animals
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Running eyes which leads to blindness.
  • Death may occur after several weeks.

Prevention and control

  • Clear bushes to control tsetse flies
  • Spray with insecticides to kill tsetse flies
  • Using tsetse fly traps to kill adult tsetse flies
  • Treat using drugs such as ethidium.

NB; Tsetse flies breed in swampy and frosted areas. They do not lay eggs but hatch the young ones in the body and deposit them.


It is a protozoan disease spread by ticks (it is a tick borne disease) it attacks cattle, sheep and goats.

Signs and symptoms

  • High fever and loss of appetite
  • Animal moves in circles
  • Animals become restless and places the head against hard objects.
  • When it falls, the legs keep peddling in the air.


cattle parasites

A parasite is a living organism that lives on another living organism and obtains its food from it. Or

A parasite is a living organism that depends on another living organism for food.

The organism on which a parasite depends for food is called a host.

A parasite eats food made for the growth and development of the host.

Types of parasites

Parasites are grouped into two namely;

  1. External Parasites/Ecto parasites
  2. Internal Parasites/Endo parasites

External Parasites

External parasites are parasites that live outside body of the host. Examples are; ticks, tsetse flies, mites, lice, jiggers etc.

Internal Parasites

Internal parasites are parasites that live inside the body of the host. They live in muscles, intestines, liver etc examples of internal parasites are; tape worms, round worms and liver flukes.

Effects of parasites of cattle

  • Pests like ticks, tsetse flies, mites and fleas suck blood from the host leading to emaciation.
  • Some pests spread diseases to animals e.g. Nagana, East coast fever, red water. Etc.
  • Some pests cause damage to the skin of the host making it of low quality.
  • Some pests cause discomfort and irritation to the host
  • Some parasites suck food and blood from host making it malnourished and unhealthy.

Prevention and control of cattle parasites.

  • Some of them can be controlled by dipping and spraying cattle with acqricides
  • Clear bushes and use tsetse fly traps to control tsetse flies.
  • Drain grazing areas to control liver flukes.
  • De-worm animals with de-worming drugs.
  • Keep animals away from pastures which are frequently covered by floods.
  • Use double fencing of grazing areas and kraals to control ticks.
  • Burn all the old pasture.
  • Practice rotational grazing

Requirements for starting a livestock farm

To start a farm, a farmer requires the following;

  1. Land

This is the place where the farm is located. it is used for growing pasture, building houses etc, the land may be bought, inherited from parents, rented or hired.

  • Capital

This refers to the money and all the buildings equipments and materials and to start a farm. Capital may be a donation, borrowed from a bank inherited from sales of property or monthly earnings.

  • Labour

Refers to all the people who perform the different tasks on the a farm. The farmer does not have all the skills and time for everything on the farm. He may employ workers, hire labourers, or use family members.

  • Management

This refers to organizing, planning and guiding the rest of the workers to carry out their duties in a more organizing way and make the farm profitable. The farmer may manage him/herself or employ others.

  • Market

Before starting a farm, one should ensure that there is market for the farm products such as meat, milk, eggs, hides etc.

  • Farm

These are written account/documents of the activities of the farm.