Cattle warts are the result of a variety of the bovine papillomavirus. The virus often enters the cow’s body through breaks in the skin. Infection with the virus results in skin lesions. Warts usually affect cattle under the age of two and is considered a disqualification in livestock shows.
Causes of Warts
According to the Purdue University Cooperative Extension warts are most likely found in calves under the age of two. Any of the four bovine papillomavirus can enter the calf’s body through any breaks or opening in the skin. If there is papillomavirus in the herd the calves are particularly vulnerable to infection during ear tagging, tattooing or ear marking. The actual wart will appear one to six months after the calf’s exposure to the virus.
A wart can usually be removed without veterinarian assistance. Purdue University says scissors or even a wire side cutter can be used to remove the wart. If the site of the wart removal bleeds apply a wound spray as a disinfectant and to prevent fly infestation.
The tool used in removing the wart should be sanitized before it used on any other cattle. Warts that are removed in this manner usually don’t reappear and the animal can compete in livestock shows a few days after treatment.
Warts naturally drop off a few months after they appear in most cases. If they are not causing other physical problems or interfering with showing the animal at a livestock show it may be prudent to allow nature to run its course.
Warts can be prevented with commercial vaccines and with vaccines developed from the virus particular to the stockman’s herd. This is usually most effective, according to Purdue University, because it creates a vaccine tailor-made to the particular virus affecting the herd.
Maintaining good medical practices during dehorning or ear tagging can also prevent the spread of warts in cattle. Disinfect any tools used between each animal. Use a disinfectant that will kill viruses. Purdue University recommends a 2 to 4 percent solution of formaldehyde. Wear gloves to prevent irritation to the hands.
All tack, halters, lead ropes and brushes, used around cattle with warts should be disinfected before being used on other animals.