Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Veterinary Handbook Contents

3.3 Specific Observations And Measurements

3.3.1 Respiratory Rate And Depth

  • Note number of breaths per minute, level of respiratory exertion (normal, panting, laboured breathing) and whether breathing is with mouth open or closed
  • Changes in respiratory rate and depth are potential indicators of early bloat, pneumonia, pleurisy, heat stress
  • Respiration rate and panting scores are very useful indicators of heat load in livestock (see section on Heat stress for tables of panting scores).

3.3.2 Faeces

  • Note consistency (i.e. firm, dry, soft, sloppy, watery), smell (i.e. sweet, putrid), colour (i.e. black, grey, green) and contents (i.e. grain, blood, mucus, fibrin).
  • Changes in consistency and contents are potential indicators of under-eating, overeating, indigestion, infection (salmonella, coccidiosis)

3.3.3 Urine

  • Note colour of urine (i.e. clear, yellow, orange, brown, port wine)
  • Changes in colour are potential indicators of dehydration, fever, muscle damage, tick fever

3.3.4 Feed Consumption

  • Feed consumption can be assessed by examining the amount of feed remaining in troughs. Routine observations can detect feed consumption changes at the pen level but not for individual animals with reduced feed intake. 
  • Average feed consumption for the whole ship is a general indicator of stock comfort but can be overestimated if feed troughs are emptied and cleaned before replenishment. Individual deck or group consumption rates can also be calculated.
  • Note cud chewing, ruminations and nose licking. Healthy, well-fed ruminants chew their cud, lick their noses and have strong, regular rumen contractions detectable by observing their left flank. Sick or stressed ruminants don't chew their cud, have weak, infrequent rumen contractions or none at all and dirty noses.

3.3.5 Water Consumption

  • Water consumption can be calculated from the ship's gross water consumption divided by the number of head on board. If flow meters are installed on each deck then it may be possible to estimate water consumption for each deck and possibly even by line of cattle. Note, the figures may be an overestimate if water troughs are emptied and cleaned before replenishing, which they usually are.
  • Changes in water consumption are potential indicators of heat or cold stress.