Animal health 'fast facts'

This is an online guide for the common diseases of dairy cattle. Start by identifying the main signs of illness, and follow the prompts until you reach a list of the likely causes. Alternatively, use the list of diseases below to go straight to the condition that you suspect. This info will help you understand the options for prevention and treatment.

Diagnosing animal disease is complex, and this guide is not a substitute for professional vet advice. Consult with your practitioner for specific info on diagnosing, treating and preventing animal diseases.

Call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline 1800 675 888 if you are concerned that you are seeing something unusual.

Downer cows

Conditions that cause cows to lie down on their chest or side and remain unable to rise.

Milking a dairy cow

Sudden drop in milk production

Conditions that may have a marked effect on milk production without other obvious clinical signs.

Cow with nervous signs

Nervous signs

Conditions that cause staggers, blindness, convulsions or unusual behaviour.

Lame dairy cow hoof

Lameness or difficulty moving

Conditions that cause unusual gait, stiff movements or tender feet.

Dairy cow with infected eye

Eye discharge

Conditions that cause weeping or red eyes, swollen eye lids or growths on or around the eyeball.

Dairy cow losing weight

Weight loss or illthrift

Conditions that cause weight loss or failure to grow despite ample feed.

Dairy cow diseases that affect humans

Diseases that can affect humans

Conditions that cause illness in humans and how to avoid them.

Dairy cow coughing

Breathing issues, discharge from mouth or nose

Conditions that affect the mouth, throat or respiratory system of cattle.

Dairy cow abortion

Abortion and infertility

Conditions that cause abortions in early or late pregnancy or a high rate of empty cows.

Dairy cow with scours


Conditions that cause loose or watery manure, often passed at frequent intervals.

Dairy cow with skin legions

Skin lesions

Conditions that cause inflamed, irritated or scaly skin, hair loss, changes in pigmentation.

Dairy cow found dead

Animals found dead

Conditions that cause sudden death without any other observed signs.