Cranky Cows A Growing Problem For Oz Farmers

AUSTRALIA - ‘CRANKY COW’ syndrome is a growing problem often overlooked by Australian dairy farmers, said a speaker at a field day in south-west Victoria.
calendar icon 18 November 2011
clock icon 2 minute read
Meriden Animal Health

Cows get temperamental, give less milk and development ailments including heat stress and staggers. It is caused by toxins produced by rye grass endophyte.

The topic arose at a More Milk, Less Stress field day on 25 October at Ecklin, near Terang. The organiser, Farmgate Stockfeeds, aims to help dairy farmers lift milk output and cope better in tough times. Farmers also heard about how to deal with stress.

Ruminant nutritionist Damian Moore, Director of Feed Safety with Meriden Animal Health, told the field day 'cranky cow' syndrome is more of a problem than most farmers realise.

"They often blame the weather, dogs and all sorts of things for cows are playing up, but the problem is caused by these toxins produced by the endophytes in their pasture," Mr Moore said. "Most farmers don’t realise the cause because the toxins have been in the pastures for so long and so have the effects."

The toxins cause staggers, heat stress, lower feed intake, reduced milk production and general irritability. "Affected cows will be temperamental and tend to strike out, kick the cups off and be frightened easily," Mr Moore said.

Endophytes are particularly prevalent in perennial ryegrass and tall fescue and most frequently are found in older pastures.

Mr Moore said Australia’s meat industry lost about $60 million a year in stock and production loss due to endophyte toxins.

Extreme cases in hot summers could result in multiple animal deaths, he added.

No silver bullet cure exists, though Fusion, a new microtoxin binder, work well in reducing the direct effects of perennial ryegrass toxicity.

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