WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for producers

In early autumn, be on the lookout for:


  • Most common in intensively farmed livestock.
  • Stress and high stocking density are common precursors to an outbreak.
  • Causes profuse diarrhoea. Sheep may be found dead and pregnant ewes may abort.
  • Read more on salmonellosis of sheep.

Ergot alkaloid poisoning (ergotism) in stock

  • May occur if stock eat grain contaminated with ergot at greater than 0.02% by weight. (Ergots are part of a fungus that forms in seed heads, especially ryegrass.)
  • Ergots may concentrate in the last 20% of silo grain so producers should recheck grain for the level of ergots when it is fed out.
  • Common signs of ergotism in WA are heat stress and reduced production.
  • Read more on ergots.

Grain overload, acidosis or grain poisoning in stock

  • Affects cattle, sheep or goats being fed grain without a gradual introduction or after a sudden change to diet.
  • Signs include depressed appearance, diarrhoea, bloating, rapid breathing, dehydration, lying down and deaths.
  • Read more on grain overload, acidosis, or grain poisoning in stock.

Summer pneumonia in sheep

  • Typically affects weaners and hoggets during late summer/autumn.
  • More common in British breeds.
  • Brought on by stressors such as entry to a feedlot, dust and cold stress.
  • Acute signs include coughing, labored breathing, discharge from the nose or just general ill-thrift.