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Working Ranch April/May 2016

s international demand for quality U.S. beef continues to explode, the importance of herd health has never been more vital. For many ranchers a central aspect of maintaining herd health includes regularly testing bulls for a variety of diseases including trichomoniasis and Brisket Disease. However, not all ranchers, veterinarians or state agencies agree on what tests are a true regulatory necessity, and what tests should be left optional to the producer. What they do agree on though is that the loss of a single calf can be detrimental. “If you look at the average cost of a calf right now, the loss of just one calf in a cow crop is signifi cant,” says Utah State Veterinarian Dr. Warren Hess. Hess believes that mandatory disease testing for bulls can prevent this loss. The sexually transmitted trichomoniasis, commonly referred to as trich, is a disease feared by producers everywhere due to its highly contagious nature and lack of treatment. In cows the disease takes hold in the uterus causing abortions and infertility. Bulls carry the disease in the folds and crevices of their sheath. As a bull ages the number of folds increase, making older bulls more likely to carry the disease. Because bulls show no outward signs of infection, detection can be diffi cult. Testing bulls for trich requires the assistance of a veterinarian and a small amount of preparation. Bulls should be sexually inactive for two weeks prior to testing to allow for the infected organisms to build up, making detection easier. On the day of testing, bulls are typically loaded into a squeeze chute where the veterinarian then inserts a pipette into the sheath and collects a scraping. The sample is sent to a lab where the status of infection is determined. Nationally, the cost of trich testing including vet fees averages between $24-$50 per bull depending on location. Because of the potential rapid spread of trich many states have set strict testing guidelines for the disease. Currently 28 states have instituted some level of regulation to try and control the disease. Majority of the regulated states require testing only when importing bulls from out of state. States such as California and Colorado require that all bulls imported from another state test negative before admittance, while some states only require the testing on imported bulls over a designated age, typically 18-24 months. Other states take the requirements Prior to a trich test, the bulls need to be pulled from the cows for two weeks to allow for the infected organisms to build up, making detection easier. 40 I WORKING RANCH I APRIL / MAY 2016


Working Ranch April/May 2016
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