Black disease (clostridial disease)

Conditions when likely to occur:

Liver fluke infestation

Clinical signs:

Profound depression and abdominal pain, sudden death.

Management strategy to prevent disease:

Clostridial vaccines prevent mortality against black leg, black disease, tetanus, pulpy kidney and malignant oedema.

For maximum protection of young calves:

  • Vaccinate cow 2–6 weeks before calving.

For protection of calves from unvaccinated cows:

  • Vaccinate early and a booster 4–8 weeks later.

For protection of calves from vaccinated cows:

  • Vaccinate calves at 6–8 months and booster 4–8 weeks later.

Older stock:

  • Annual booster timed before high-risk period or more frequently in high-risk situation, such as grain feeding in drought.

New stock:

Implement vaccination procedures as for normal stock. If history of vaccination known, implement herd program. If vaccination history not known, give a sensitising dose then booster 4-8 weeks later.


More information on clostridial diseases including causes, prevention and treatment can be found on the primefacts factsheet provided by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.