WA Livestock Disease Outlook - for vets

In summer, watch out for these livestock diseases

Disease, typical history and signs Key samples

Kikuyu poisoning

  • Kikuyu normally grows spring-autumn and can provide valuable summer feed, but poisoning can occur under certain conditions.
  • A long dry spell followed by heavy summer rain can cause rapid growth. Lush paddocks not grazed before rain pose a big risk.
  • Cattle are most affected by kikuyu poisoning, but sheep and goats are also susceptible. Animals of any age/condition can be affected.
  • Signs may include unusual vocalisation, bloating, hypersalivating, ataxia, recumbency and sham drinking.
  • Differential diagnoses: listeriosis, milk fever, Histophilus meningoencephalitis, grass tetany, lead, salt or nitrate poisoning, foot-and-mouth disease (reportable), rabies (reportable).
  • Sudden death cases may be eligible for subsidised investigations.
  • Read more on kikuyu poisoning.


  • 10mL blood in lithium heparin, EDTA and clotted.
  • Faecal samples.


  • Base sample set including rumen content and brain.
  • Fixed reticulum and omasum.

Pasture samples:

Water quality issues

  • Water quality can be reduced where salinity is excessive due to evaporation over summer.
  • Water points can become toxic with blue-green algae when the water temperature increases.
  • Water contaminated with organic matter can result in botulism in cattle or salmonellosis in sheep.
  • Stock may refuse to drink water or drink a reduced amount when water quality is poor, which reduces feed intake and growth rate.
  • Read more about water quality for livestock including guidelines for water salinity by species and water testing.

Water samples can be tested for salinity and blue-green algae at DPIRD:

  • 500mL of water in clear glass or plastic bottle which has been rinsed thoroughly in the water to be sampled.

WA Livestock Disease Outlook highlights benefits of surveillance

Australia’s ability to sell livestock and livestock products depends on evidence from our surveillance systems that we are free of particular livestock diseases. The WA livestock disease outlook – for vets summarises recent significant disease investigations by DPIRD vets and private vets that contribute to that surveillance evidence.

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We welcome feedback. To provide comments or to subscribe to the monthly email newsletter, WA livestock disease outlook, email waldo@dpird.wa.gov.au