Veterinary associations are leading calls for livestock and horse owners to take precautionary measures to protect their animals from flooding as weather warnings are issued across the UK.

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The BVA and other associations are encouraging large animal owners to be vigilant, particularly where there are flood warnings in place.

The warning comes after the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey 2015/16 revealed 33% of vets working with livestock or horses had clients who lost stock due to flooding in the winter of 2015.

Together with the Sheep Veterinary Society, BCVA, BEVA and the Goat Veterinary Society, the BVA is advising owners to ensure animals are kept out of harm’s way in areas where flood warnings are in place, and to take extra caution if livestock are kept near a river.

Welfare hazards

The BVA has also reminded owners that flooded and muddy fields pose health and welfare hazards for cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock.

Last year, 23% of vets in flood-affected areas reported problems due to animals being cut off from food, and 27% saw cases of flood-related lameness.

BVA president Gudrun Ravetz said: “We know livestock keepers and farmers are well aware of the risks of flooding. But our survey shows owners can still get caught out and that livestock can easily be lost to flooding.

“Thinking ahead and having a contingency in place is a wise move for hard-pushed livestock farmers and we’re encouraging all large animal owners to be vigilant this winter – particularly where there are flood warnings in place.”

Avoid dangerous conditions

If weather conditions become too hazardous, the BVA and other veterinary associations suggest moving livestock to sheltered areas closer to home – not only to keep animals dry, but to ensure owners stay safe by avoiding trips out in dangerous conditions.

After floodwater recedes, the BVA advises owners to inspect pastures and streams for potentially hazardous plants or other material that may have been deposited. Examples include the roots of water dropwort, which are highly toxic to grazing animals and may be exposed after heavy water flow or rainfall.

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