Farmers top image

Treatment and control of common cattle diseases and pests

By Alex Wachira
It is important to have regular visits by a veterinary doctor to check up on the health of the cows.  Photo: Boniface Thuku


Notifiable disease: This is any health condition that upon detection is required to be reported to the veterinary doctor and government authorities. All notifiable diseases require the imposition of quarantine. 

Non-notifiable disease: This is non-contagious but still needs to be treated. According to by they include:

  • Management diseases - such as mastitis, milk fever, diarrhea.
  • Tick and insect-borne diseases - such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, etc.
  • Fertility problems 
  • Skin diseases
  • Zoonotic diseases (transferable to humans)

Ecto-parasites: These are external parasites found outside the body.

  • Ticks: According to, ticks and tick-borne diseases can be controlled by spraying with acaricides, dipping animals in dips, or using pour-on chemicals.
  • Fleas, lice, and flies

They are controlled by regular dipping or spraying with effective acaricides and insecticides.

Endo-parasites: These are found inside the body.

  • They are prevented and controlled by administering anthelmintic drugs at recommended rates every three to four months.


Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

Infected animals should be quarantined and isolated from the healthy ones then reported to the veterinary for proper treatment with antiseptics and dressing for lesions in the feet.

Animals recovered from the disease present a characteristically rough coat and deformation of the hoof.


Due to the acute nature of the disease resulting in sudden death, treatment is of use in cases showing a sub-acute form of the disease.

In most cases, early treatment can cure anthrax. The cutaneous (skin) form of anthrax can be treated with common antibiotics such as penicillin, tetracycline, erythromycin, and ciprofloxacin (Cipro).


Prevention includes maintaining a clean milking environment.

In other cases, one can use a strip cup to show early infections as small nodules of coagulated milk will show in positive cases.

Other remedies include:

  • Teat dipping in antiseptic after milking
  • Proper milking which does not involve too much pulling of the teats
  • Proper drying of the cows
  • Vaccinating the cows against mastitis right after giving birth. One vaccination protects the cow for a full lactation period against most mastitis-causing bacteria
  • Use of recommended intramammary antibiotics

Milk fever

  • If the cow is left with its calf for the first 3 days after calving and not milked by people during this time, many cases of milk fever can be avoided. Besides, the first week's milk is not suited for mixing with other milk for sale. 
  • A handful of agricultural lime mixed with the first feed given after birth will prevent milk fever.

For late discovered cases of milk fever (when the cow is no longer able to drink), only the use of calcium formulations administered right into the bloodstream by a veterinarian can save the animal (consult veterinarian).



© Copyright 2020 - The Standard Group PLC