Vet stresses testing for ‘trich’ in cattle

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Bovine trichomoniasis has infected some cattle in Quay County, said John C. Wenzel extension veterinarian for New Mexico State University in Las Cruces.

“It’s in pretty much an issue in most counties in the the state right now … there have been some diagnosed in this area,” Wenzel said.

Wenzel was one of several veterinarians who spoke on animal health care at the recent Agricultural and Home Economics seminar.
Shortened, it is know as “trich” and is a venereal disease affecting cattle, Wenzel said.

Because trich is so easily transmittable, “It can be fairly devastating when it gets into herd and goes undiagnosed right away because the loss of pregnancy can be as high as 50 percent,” Wenzel said.

It became a concern in the spring of 2005 because there was an outbreak in central New Mexico. “The numbers were high enough that the New Mexico Livestock Board stepped in and made it a reportable disease, effective June 2005, he said.

The increased awareness has caused more testing, including the testing of 6,700 bulls in 2007 and a fair number have been positive, Wenzel said.

“It’s been diagnosed all over the state .. the hotbeds are central and southwestern New Mexico,” he said.

Trich causes the loss of pregnancy in cows. Therefore, it can have a significant economic impact on a rancher.

“The other part of the economic impact of the disease is that any bull diagnosed with the disease has to go to slaughter, Wenzel said. “There is no treatment available that is effective for bulls so those bulls can only go to slaughter.”

Bulls become chronically infected and can be carriers for many, many years, if not detected, he said.

Also, about three percent of cows can become what is called “carrier cows,” Wenzel said.

Any premise where trich is diagnosed becomes quarantined.

“It’s not too big a deal,” Wenzel said. Calves can move without restriction, but any breeding age animals have to be moved under the guidelines of the state’s Livestock Board.

There are ways to control the disease, Wenzel said, such as vaccination, which is effective only for females.

And there are strict guidelines for when the herd can be vaccinated, he said. Vaccinations only cover one breeding season.

“It’s a real problem for us,” Wenzel said, for several reasons:
l Diagnosis is not easy
l Testing is fairly expensive and requires planning.
l There is no treatment available.
l It can result in the loss of quite few animals out of the herd.

The key to cleaning up a herd is to test and remove the positive bulls.

“There are a lot of issues we need to look at. There’s a lot of things we don’t understand about the disease. But, right now, I would ask producers to get in contact with their veterinarian, get the darn bulls tested and let’s see what we’ve got,” Wenzel said.

Wenzel will speak in Santa Rosa on Feb. 12. For more information call 461-0562.