By Connor Lynch
KIRKTON — Clostridial disease rates are on the rise in Ontario and dairy farmers need to consider vaccination.
That’s according to Dr. Mac Littlejohn of the Kirkton and St. Mary’s veterinary group. The clostridial class of bacteria is ubiquitous in the environment, and different strains can cause tetanus, botulism, blackleg, and pulpy kidney disease in cattle, to name a few.
Vaccines are relatively cheap and effective, said Littlejohn, and much better known in the beef industry, which is more familiar with the clostridial class of bacteria. That’s because more beef animals are outside, where they tend to be exposed to the bacteria.
Although there are no disease rates available, Littlejohn recommends dairy farmers get more familiar with the benefits of vaccination. The diseases caused by the bacteria tend to kill quickly, so treatment is a far less attractive option than prevention, he said.
Risk factors are also somewhat different than for other diseases. Having an outbreak nearby is a concern, but it’s because that means the local environment is suitable for the disease, rather than risks of catching the disease. Dairy farmers should instead focus on using clean needles when they need to inject their animals, and inject at the neck rather than the rump, since it is typically cleaner. Wet or poorly stored silage can also be a risk factor, although Littlejohn cautions that perfectly stored feed can still contain the bacteria.