Agriculture Warns of Increased Threat of Disease to Livestock During Wet Weather

Sheep on St. Croix

Agriculture Commissioner Positive Nelson reminds livestock farmers about the increased threat of disease to animals caused by the wet weather. He recommends that all farmers fix leaky roofs and improve drainage in and around animal pens during the rainy season to reduce standing water, mud and wet manure.

Wet and muddy pens and pastures put animals at risk for many health problems. Mud can cause foot damage and lameness that prevents animals from moving around to eat and graze. Stomach worms thrive in wet manure and on muddy pastures, and they can cause disease and even death in infected cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

According to Dr. Bethany Bradford, director of Veterinary Services for the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, “Wet manure causes the release of ammonia into the air. The ammonia can irritate the animals’ lungs and cause pneumonia. Farmers should make every effort to keep their animals out of the mud and manure. Fix leaking roofs and provide drainage for water run-off. Farmers can build concrete flooring or place wooden pallets to reduce the exposure of livestock to mud and wet manure.”

To neutralize the ammonia smell, Bradford recommends using white lime, which is available from concrete suppliers and hardware stores and can be spread directly onto wet manure to control the ammonia smell.

Farmers should contact the Department of Agriculture’s Division of Veterinary Services about using deworming medications effectively to reduce worm infestations before animals get sick.

For more information, call the Division of Veterinary Services at 778-099 or 642-7320.