Ask the Vet

Cattle Have Allergies, Too

Thick nasal discharge and a lack of appetite may be a sign of fall or spring allergies. (DTN/Progressive Farmer photo by Victoria G. Myers)

Question: This past August, I had several calves that were breathing hard and had thick, yellow discharge from their noses. They seemed uncomfortable but were still eating and not losing any weight. It happened right after we turned them onto new rented pasture ground, and there were lots of weeds on it, but nothing else changed. What do you think this could have been?

Answer: We used to see something that sounds a lot like this in the late summer when I was young. We called it "summer snuffles." Many times, the discharge was clear to cloudy. This is probably similar to an allergy just like people get. It could progress into a sinus infection but is often self-limiting. A good first step would be to remove them from the pasture.

There are, however, several other possibilities that could look very similar to allergies, including summer pneumonias, which are tough diseases to manage and treat.

Whether cattle showing these symptoms need treatment will depend on how things progress. If the symptoms continue, always call your veterinarian to check the situation out.