Sick, injured and cull cattle


Source: National Farm Animal Care Council, Code of Practice for the care and handling of Beef Cattle – Section 3.2

More frequent monitoring of cattle may be necessary during weather that may compromise animal welfare, calving and post-weaning periods, and when multiple stressors occur simultaneously (e.g. weaning, transportation, commingling, etc.). Adequate monitoring ensures timely detection and treatment of sick or injured cattle. Treatment may vary from therapeutic interventions to convalescent care. Some examples of convalescent care may include (but are not limited to): segregation, easier access to feed and water, reduced competition and increased monitoring.

Be aware that cattle may hide their expression of pain or suffering, and that this may affect your assessment of their condition in making decisions about treatment or euthanasia (19).

Cattle owners, veterinarians, and laboratories are required to immediately report an animal that is infected or suspected of being infected with a reportable disease to a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) District Veterinarian. Reportable diseases are listed in the Health of Animals Act ( and are usually of significant importance to human or animal health or to the Canadian economy.


Monitor cattle health on an ongoing basis to ensure prompt treatment or care.

Provide appropriate care, convalescence or treatment for sick, injured or lame cattle without delay.

Monitor the animals’ response to therapy or care and, if the initial treatment protocol fails, then reassess treatment options or seek veterinary advice.

Euthanize (or cull*) without delay cattle that:

  • are unlikely to recover, or
  • fail to respond to treatment and convalescent protocols, or
  • have chronic, severe, or debilitating pain and distress, or
  • are unable to get to or consume feed and water, or
  • show continuous weight loss or emaciation.

*If culling, Requirements for transporting compromised animals must be followed (refer to Section 5 – Transportation). Suspicion of a reportable disease as defined by the Health of Animals Act ( and various provincial acts must be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.


  1. consult a veterinarian to address new, unknown, or suspicious illness or death losses
  2. consult a veterinarian if the incidence of a known illness suddenly increases
  3. consult a veterinarian for the most appropriate treatment options when an animal is sick
  4. monitor the progress of treated cattle
  5. dispose of dead cattle according to applicable provincial/municipal regulations.


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