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Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum


SHIPPING FEVER 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Photo Credit: @2020 All rights observed by Orissa

Shipping Fever also known as Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex is a bacterial disease of cattle usually associated with stress involved in movement. The disease affects the upper respiratory system and is presented with signs such as laboured or rapid breathing, nasal discharges, coughing, anorexia and depression. 

Stress factors associated with movement of animals such as long journeys with little or no rest, starvation, overheating due to poor ventilation in trucks, dust and harsh weather conditions weaken the immune systems of the cattle, and predispose the animals to this disease. Shipping fever is caused by the bacterium Mannheimia haemolytica. It is often complicated by other bacteria; Pasteurella multocida and Histophilus somni.  Already sick or weak animals  and recently weaned calves have a higher chance of contracting the disease due to their compromised and fragile immune systems. While Shipping Fever is usually not fatal, it affects productivity greatly as several animals come down with the infection within a short time.

Elimination of all possible stressors  is the first step for recovery in cattle. Provision of adequate water, open space with fresh air and food are few examples to take note of. Some antibiotics may be prescribed by your veterinarian depending on the implicating bacterium. Vitamin and mineral supplements may be added to the therapy as animals may be weak and would not have enough energy to move about.

Preventive measures for Shipping Fever should include providing resting periods for animals being transported especially during long journeys. The rest period should include provision of food and water for animals. Trucks transporting animals should not be overloaded and must be roomy enough to allow them to breathe and move. It is not advisable to keep sick and healthy animals in the same truck. Calves should be weaned at least 2-3 weeks before transportation. At various animal markets, shelters should be created to protect them from the harsh environmental conditions.

Vaccines for Shipping Fever are available and should be given at least 2–3 weeks prior to transportation.  Vaccination can be repeated when animals are introduced into feedlot.


PREGNANCY TOXAEMIA / KETOSIS 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Pregnant animals require extra care and attention due to how vulnerable they are when they get to this stage. Healthy animals lead to increased productivity and ultimately income generation. Today’s article focuses on one of the major conditions which affects ewes and does during their last stages of pregnancy. This condition is even more severe when there is twinning. The condition known as pregnancy toxaemia is not bound by geographical location or by season and once it occurs, it is almost always fatal and death normally occurs 2-10 days after onset of disease


This is a metabolic disease which occurs when the nutrition provided cannot meet the demands of the growing foetus. The body tries to compensate for this resulting in the abnormal breakdown of carbohydrates. This process leads to the production of some by-products which when accumulated are harmful to the animal and developing foetus.  Major contributing factors to this condition are:

  1. Poor nutrition
  2. Obese ewes/does
  3. Hormonal imbalance
  4. Heavy worm load
  5. Harsh weather conditions


  1. Loss of appetite
  2. Depression
  3. Lethargy
  4. Convulsions
  5. Recumbency


It is necessary to pay close attention to the diet and body condition score of animals especially during pregnancy. Ewes and Does must be kept in very good body condition and must be fed with high quality roughage  especially during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy.


Early detection is important for a successful therapy. Treatment is aimed at increasing the blood glucose level. This is done either by oral or intravenous administration of glucose. The glucose requirement of the ewe/doe can be reduced by inducing parturition. However, especially if it is a first time pregnancy, there could be difficulties with delivery and surgery would be the way out to save the young ones.


INTERDIGITAL DERMATITIS 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Picture Credit: Wikivet

Interdigital dermatitis is a condition that leads to lameness in sheep and goats and is often a predisposing factor to footrot. It is sometimes referred to as Benign Footrot. It is a mixed bacterial infection however, Dichelobacter nodosus has been recognized as the major cause of this condition. Other causal factors of this disease include wet weather, muddy pens, and damp pastures. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and laboratory testing.


The interdigital skin is red and swollen and may be seen as covered with a thin layer of white exudate. The hoof capsule may be shed in very severe cases. Chronic infections can lead to lameness and formation of misshapen hooves.


The use of topical aerosol antibiotic sprays have proven to be very effective. In farm herds where large numbers have been affected, the whole flock can be treated with 10% Zinc Sulphate solution or 3% formalin in a footbath. High concentrations of formalin greater than 5% can cause irritations. Sheep must be made to stand in a dry area for the formalin or the zinc sulphate to dry on the feet. Footbaths  must be repeated (after a week or two). There is no need to attempt foot trimming.


HAEMONCHOSIS IN RUMINANTS 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Photo Credit: Adduci, Isabella, et al. “Haemonchosis in Sheep and Goats, Control Strategies and Development of Vaccines against Haemonchus contortus.” Animals 12.18 (2022): 2339.

Amid the several parasitic infections that plague ruminants, Haemonchus spp has been recognized as one of the many parasites that cause severe damages to the digestive system. This blood-sucking worm is responsible for a lot of losses in cattle, sheep and goat production.

A parasite generally is any organism, that lives in or on another (host) and harms or offers no advantage to the other organism (host).

This worm also commonly referred to as Barber’s Pole worm resides in the abomasum of ruminants (fourth or last chamber of the ruminant’s stomach).  Haemonchus spp has piercing mouthparts that causes extensive damage to the walls of the abomasum. An adult worm is capable of sucking about 0.05mls of blood daily from an affected animal. Hence an animal infected with about 2000 worms will have 100mls of blood loss daily.

There are various species of the blood parasite affecting various ruminant types. Some of the common species of Haemonchus include Haemonchus contortus, Haemonchus similis and Haemonchus placei. There are few records of cross-transmission of the Haemonchus spp between small ruminants and cattle.  Haemonchosis has remained a threat to ruminant production especially in the tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions of the world, where environmental conditions favour the free-living stages of the parasite.


In acute conditions, anaemia, agalactia in ewes, submandibular oedema or bottle jaw and death due to blood loss are among the common clinical signs. When the condition becomes chronic, there is progressive weight loss and general weakness. Diagnosis is based on presenting clinical signs, grazing history as well as worm egg count from the laboratory.


Consult your veterinarian once you notice similar signs on your farm. Having a good management program to control parasitic infection on your farm is important.


ORF IN RUMIMANTS 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Orf is a highly transmissible viral disease of sheep and goats with zoonotic potential (i.e. it can be transferred to humans). It has numerous names such as Sore Mouth Disease, Contagious Ecthyma or Scabby Mouth. Orf belongs to the Poxviridae family. Animals get infected through direct contact with affected animals as they interact. Other sources of transmission include from mother to young animals through the teats and through broken skin or wounds as animals graze and feed.  


Lesions normally start as small reddened patches around the mouth, muzzle, teats and legs, which begin to produce a clear fluid. The fluid eventually hardens into a thickened scab which dries up and drops off after 2-3 weeks. The scab in the early stages is firmly attached. Forceful removal of the scab leads to bleeding. When lesions are formed on the udder and teats, nursing mothers may not allow young ones to suckle. Such young ones will require supplemented feed to survive.  

Humans contract the disease when they come in contact with equipment contaminated with the virus. People with close contact to livestock are highly exposed to this virus.


Maintain high biosecurity protocols on farm. Quarantine new animals brought into the farm, as well as affected animals to limit spread of infection. The disease in small ruminants is self-limiting and supportive care is usually given to affected animals. Contact your vet for advice when your animals start exhibiting similar signs.  There are vaccines available, however they are only used in areas where outbreaks have occurred. Vaccine protection is not lifelong but will reduce severity of the disease when it occurs.


DIARRHOEA IN NEWLY BORN RUMINANTS CAUSED BY E.coli 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Diarrhoea in newly born ruminants caused by Escherichia coli (E.coli) remains as one of the common conditions of newborns which sometimes leads to death.

E. coli, is a bacterium which naturally resides in the intestines of living organisms and aid in digestion. There are however some strains of E. coli (Enterotoxigenic E. coli and Enteropathogenic E. coli) that cause severe infection especially in the early lives (normally within the first week) of calves and lambs. The infection is sometimes complicated with other pathogens such as Clostridium perfringens and Rota virus.

Enterotoxigenic E. coli release enterotoxins which disrupts the osmotic balance of the gut cells, leading to excess fluid secretion into the lumen of the gut, resulting in diarrhoea.  

Enteropathogenic E. coli affect the intestinal lining, leading to ulcers and erosions of the intestinal walls. Some of these strains of E. coli release toxins (verotoxin) which enhance the erosions of the intestinal mucosa leading to hemorrhages.

Clinical Signs

Diarrhoea (very clear watery stool or bloody)

– Dehydration

– Death

– Lethargy

– Fever

Treatment and Prevention

– Practice good hygiene especially in delivery pens

– Ensure young animals get colostrum especially during the first week of life. Kids (baby goats)  are however resistant to this infection.

Affected animals are usually given supportive therapy with antibiotics after sensitivity testing has been carried out.



Today’s article is a very useful tool in guiding your decision making during buying new animals both for breeding and production purposes. Veterinarians generally use this technique also, to guess the approximate age of an animal where data or acquisition history of the animal may be deficient. In the absence of any defect or accidents, dentition of ruminants has proven and remained one of the popular and easy means to determine their age.

An adult sheep or goat has a total of 32 teeth. There are four pairs of incisors and twelve molars on the lower jaw whilst twelve molars and a dental pad are found on the upper jaw. Lambs and kids have temporary/milk teeth (incisors) which will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth.

The incisors therefore play a major role in enabling us to approximate the age of a sheep or goat (I I I I I I I I). When your ruminant is about a year old, the middle pair of incisors get replaced by a pair of permanent incisors (I I I I I  I I I).  After another year (2 years old), they have an additional pair of incisors replaced by permanent teeth (I l I  I I  I l  I). By their fourth year, all four incisors would have been replaced by permanent teeth (I I I I I I I I).

As they animals age (beyond 5 years), the teeth begin to space out, and then break or fall out. A sheep whose teeth are all fallen out (approximately 10 years old) is called a ‘’gummer”/” gummy’’.

Picture credit:Royal Veterinary CollegeAttribution-Noncommercial 4.0 International


BLACK LEG/ BLACK QUARTER DISEASE 1280 720 Kingsley Emmanuel Bentum

Copyright © 2021 Farm4Trade SRL

This is a highly fatal disease of farm animals including cattle, sheep, goats and horses. It is caused by the bacterium, Clostridium chauvoei (Cl.chauvoei). The disease is characterized by severe swelling and necrosis of affected muscles (especially those of the hind quarters).

Clostridium chauvoei spores can be found in the soil. Drastic changes in the weather such as droughts and floods can expose the bacterial spores which are ingested by animals during feeding. After an animal comes in contact with the bacterium, the organism travels through the digestive system, enters the blood stream and is finally deposited in the muscle and other vital organs such as the spleen and liver. The bacterium can also enter the body through wounds and scratches (especially in small ruminants). Once it enters the body, it produces toxins which are deadly to the host animal.

Signs of Black Leg disease include sudden death of farm animal, fever, depression, lameness (especially the hind quarters) with extensive and painful swelling of the affected limb. Crackling sounds may be heard when affected limbs are touched due to accumulated gas in the muscles (emphysema). Animals usually die within 48 hours after signs of disease are evident.  

Black Leg/Black Quarter disease can be diagnosed through culture, fluorescent antibody test and necropsy.

Treatment of Black Quarter disease is effective when detected early. Contact your veterinarian when you notice similar signs in your farm animals.

To control the spread of this disease, carcasses affected with this disease should be burned completely or buried deeply. Lime or other disinfectants should be sprinkled over the carcass during the burial period.



Brucellosis is a highly infectious disease that has the potential of being transferred from animals to humans (zoonotic). It makes it a disease of great public health significance with economic impact.


It is caused by the bacterium Brucella spp. Brucella has different species including Brucella abortus, Brucella canis, Brucella suis  and Brucella melitensis. These species affect several animals such as cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, dogs, horses and camels. Recent scientific discoveries have identified strains of brucella in red foxes and certain marine animals. Brucella melitensis is the main strain that affects sheep and goats and also has the potential of infecting humans.


Brucella spp is spread through contact with contaminated birth or uterine fluids, milk and semen from infected animals. Other means of contracting the disease include cuts or scratches through the mucous membranes. 


These may include abortions during the late stages of pregnancy, retained placentas, still births, weak offspring, swollen or inflamed testicles (orchitis) and arthritis. In human, symptoms may include fever, headaches, muscle, and joint pains.


Brucellosis is difficult to be treated and hence no practical treatment protocol exist in animals. Testing of animals and the elimination of positive reactors is the recommended protocol for control and prevention of the disease. It is important to purchase animals from credible sources and test breeding stock for brucellosis before mating them. After birth discharges should be properly disposed off to reduce spread of infection



There are several breeds of sheep across the globe with varying uniqueness based on their geographical location and purpose. One of the major things to consider in starting a small ruminant farm in Ghana is the breed of animal. This article will provide detailed information on the two major breeds of sheep we have in Ghana.

The Sahel -type/The West African Long-legged:

This breed of sheep is mostly found in the northern part of Africa including Mali and Niger, and also in the northern parts of Ghana. The Sahel-type are tall with very long legs, bulky and have pendulous ears. The average female can weigh over 30kg. They however have poor mutton constitution. They are usually white and brown, white, or white and black in colour. The males do not have manes but have distinctive twisted horns. The females lack horns (polled). The high body mass of this breed makes them a breed of choice for many farmers across the nation.

The West African Dwarf/ The West African Maned /Djallonke:

West African Dwarf, popularly known as the Djallonke breed is also classified as one of the savannah – type West African Sheep, and it is the dominant sheep type in countries like Ghana and Nigeria. They are smaller in size with an average weight of 25kg. The Djallonke breed can be found in varying black and white patterns. However, some of them may be all white in colour. The rams have well developed manes with curved horns. The females usually lack horns (polled) or may have very short slender horns. The growth rate of the Djallonke breed is relatively slow but they are very hardy and disease resistant, especially to trypanosomiasis.

Over the years, there have been a continuous introduction of some other foreign breeds in the sub-region. Nevertheless, the above discussed remain the most common and well adapted breeds.

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