The difficult or incomplete passage of dry hardened faeces.
Faeces becomes harder, drier and more difficult to pass the longer it stays in the colon. This may occur in animals suffering reduced water intake, temporary food deprivation, environmental or social stress making them reluctant to defecate, disrupted dietary and management routines, or painful pelvic disease.
In the live export process, the condition is sometimes seen in the first week at sea. It is never life threatening. A typical circumstance where cattle may become constipated is after being fed a diet high in indigestible fibre in assembly points, and then being handled and transported for an extended period when dehydration and stress occur. The cattle do show signs of discomfort and straining.
Usually multiple animals in a group are affected. Defecation may require severe straining for an extended period and eventually result in the passage of short columns of hard, dry faeces.
Resumption of free access to good quality drinking water, rest and good quality hay, chaff or pellets will usually resolve constipation after a few days to a week. This usually occurs in the first week at sea. No further medical interventions are required.
Regular, frequent access to good quality water, feed and rest is preventative.