Urgent warning to farmers who are 'struggling enough with the drought'

Horrific photos have revealed the awful realities of the drought and the complications of providing safe and clean water to livestock.

Wauchope Vets, in the NSW Mid North Coast region, posted images to their Facebook page of five young heifers dead on the roadside, while a sixth lay nearby, edging towards the same fate.

The heartbreaking image isn’t uncommon and is one of the side effects desperate farmers face trying to provide clean drinking water to their livestock during drought.

It’s the second time in four months the staff at Wauchope Vets have come across the scene of dead livestock scattered across the road and they believe it’s due to a common method being used to provide water to cattle.

It’s the second time in four months the staff have come across the scene of dead livestock scattered across the road. Source: Facebook/Wauchope Vets

“Five young heifers dead and another dying after they drank water from a trough filled with a previously used IBC tank,” Wauchope Vets wrote on Facebook.

An IBC tank is an industrial grade tank often used for storing and transporting bulk liquids and powders, if they are not ‘food grade’ they can become contaminated.

“Our investigation makes us believe that tanks previously contained a diesel fuel additive containing Urea that despite being washing out, has contaminated the water given to these cows,” the vets wrote.

According to the Department of Primary Industry and Resources, death from Urea poisoning can occur rapidly from a few minutes to four hours after consumption, and cattle are usually found dead close to the supplement.

It is believed five young heifers drank water from a trough filled with a previously used IBC tank. Source: Facebook/Wauchope Vets

According to the Wauchope Vets it’s not just cattle affected by Urea poisoning and side effects can include “cattle showing agitation, irritability, and aggressive behaviour, with loss of ruminal tone and bloating”.

The vet says sheep are often dull and depressed, and horses may show depression and head pressing.

The rural vets said they had sent off samples to the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute laboratory to confirm the cause of death but are warning farmers to take extra care with what they use to contain food and water for livestock.

“Please share and help us prevent more of these accidents. Farmers are struggling enough with the drought to have to deal with these tragedies,” they wrote.

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