Consumption of foreign objects

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Source: VBP+ Fact Sheet

HARDWARE DISEASE

When cattle accidentally consume foreign material, such as sharp pieces of metal, hardware disease can occur. These objects can settle into the reticulum of the animal, irritating the lining of this chamber.

Signs of hardware disease include:
• A depressed state
• Going off feed
• Sedentary behaviour General signs of discomfort

Hardware can be painful to the animal and can inhibit performance. As well, hardware poses a food safety concern for animals entering the supply chain without producer knowledge of whether hardware is present.

COMMON HAZARDS

Common sources of foreign objects that lead to hardware disease include the following:
• Metal cables on fences or feed bunks
• Fragments from feed processing equipment deposited in feed
• Scrap material left on the ground

PREVENTATIVE MEASURES

Producers can help minimize the risk of animals developing hardware disease by implementing preventive measures. Ideally, practices will target prevention of foreign objects becoming accessible for consumption. This includes:
• Using magnets/scalpers (example pictured bottom left) to remove scrap metal from feed
• Where possible, avoiding the use of materials that could produce foreign objects available for consumption (ex. metal fence cables)
• Regular equipment and facility maintenance
• Regular inspection of feeding areas for foreign material

Producers should regularly inspect cattle and facilities to monitor incidence and potential new hazards.

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