With further torrential rain lashing the area over the last few days, it seems as though the wet weather will never end. While most of us can seek shelter indoors, spare a thought for livestock who have to endure the brunt of all that the weather can throw at them.
Flooded and muddy fields are a hazard for cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock, as standing in water and deep mud can cause infections and diseases, such as foot rot. I would urge owners, where possible, to ensure their fields have suitable drainage and an area where animals can stand out of the mud or damp. The presence of mud also creates an ideal habitat for the tiny snails which spread the serious parasite, liver fluke, which can be fatal to sheep.
While not as badly affected by flooding as some areas of the country, our Vets have been called to assist at a number of localised flooded areas. The rapidly rising water levels are able to cut off access to cattle and sheep or even wash them away. Fortunately, we are not aware of any animal fatalities locally as a result of the recent severe weather. Extra caution is required if livestock are usually kept near a river as field-flooding can happen days after the deluge of rain. If fields are prone to flooding then, where possible, it is prudent for owners to move their livestock ahead of time to a drier field during the winter months.
I would encourage all livestock owners to exercise extra caution during the extreme wet weather. Having a contingency plan for evacuation in place may seem drastic, however the cost of being caught out is greater if you end up unable to reach animals that are in distress or, worse still, lose animals through circumstances that could be avoided.
If the weather conditions become too hazardous I would suggest moving livestock to sheltered areas closer to home, not only to keep animals dry, but to ensure owners stay safe themselves by avoiding trips out into more exposed areas of land in dangerous conditions.