WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for producers

In early spring, watch out for these livestock diseases


Typical history and signs

Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) in sheep and cattle

  • Thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency is the most common cause of PEM in WA
  • Most often occurs in WA when there is a sudden change to feed composition. All ages and classes can be affected.
  • Most outbreaks involve only a few animals in the mob but can result in death rates as high as 10%.
  • Signs include muscle twitching, seizures, head pressing, blindness, paddling and head thrown back, death.
  • Animals treated in the early stages with thiamine may recover. Read more about treatment on our PEM webpage.
  • Eligible disease investigations can be subsidised – contact your DPIRD field vet for information.

Worms in sheep and cattle

  • Signs of Barber’s pole worms include bottlejaw, fluid-filled abdomen, anaemia and sudden deaths. Other worm species may cause lost productivity, ill-thrift, weakness and diarrhoea.
  • Young sheep and cattle require good worm control to achieve their potential growth rate.
  • High stocking rates favour the spread of worms. Lambs will require an effective drench at weaning and ideally be put onto a paddock with a low worm burden.
  • Worm egg counts are a useful tool to measure drench effectiveness. See the sheep Drench Decision Guide on the Wormboss website or the DPIRD website on drench resistance.
  • Read more on sheep worm control.
  • Read more on beef cattle worm control.