Unexplained Animal Deaths on Your Ranch or Farm

(Is it disease, parasites, or could it just possibly your water source?)

Over the years since I have been ranching for myself and as also as a young boy helping my father and grandfather on our family ranch, we, like all in the livestock business, experienced death loss from a multitude of factors.  From the drought and screw worms in the 50’s and 60’s to pneumonia in the winter and the loss of animals from an unexpected late spring ice storm, death loss on a ranch is almost certain and reinforces the old saying that “livestock is also dead stock”. 

How many, however, have had death loss of one or more animals that just can’t be explained?  I would venture to say that all of us have experienced this at one time or another.  Depending on the time of year we can only theorize, but either due to the shape of the carcass when we find it or through an assumption, we never really know for sure what caused the demise of the animal(s).

A good friend and EWA member recently suffered several animal deaths in and around his ranch that could not be explained. Everyone he talked with advised him it was a worming problem.  He wormed his entire herd several times and the death loss continued. After several necropsies with negative results he began to suspect something that most ranchers would never consider. We all know that all living things have to have water to survive. As good caretakers of wildlife and stewards of the land, we make sure our livestock and wildlife have plenty available water sources.  What my friend found through a detailed analysis done by Texas A&M University was that the life sustaining water on his property was the main suspect that MAY have caused many of the unexplained deaths on his ranch. To add insult to injury our member is now experiencing death loss in his fawn crop as well as a number of still born fawns.

Our member asked that he not be identified by name but felt compelled to share, with our association members, what was discovered in the ponds on his ranch and that possibly could help save their livestock. EWA has been given permission to publish the analysis of the water sources on his ranch and the recommended remedies for cleaning up the water source.

One of the things to note is that although the water source was conducive to supporting a healthy fish population and SHOULD not have had ill effects on livestock that drink it, there was a potential bacterial issue with Enterococci.  This bacterium attacks the flora within the intestines and can lead to death if not treated. As can be seen in the analysis there were many other possible causative factors in the water leading to animal death so one can draw their own conclusions as to what was the leading POSSIBLE cause of death of the livestock on this ranch.

See analysis from Texas A&M University