Shifting cow numbers have brought trichomoniasis to new areas. Severe drought in the Southern Plains has caused a shift in cow numbers, as they are moved to areas in the Midwest where grass is available. And, with that shift comes an increase in the risk of diseases, like trichomoniasis, that move with the cattle.

“In Iowa, they have found trichomoniasis for the first time this past year, so it is moving into new areas,” warns Dr. Doug Ensley, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

Caused by a protozoan (Tritrichomonas foetus), trich is a venereal disease spread by bulls. With no visible signs, it can cause abortions and/or open or late-calving cows. It’s difficult to spot and can spread through a herd like wildfire.

Herds that become infected with trich usually see a 20 to 30 percent drop in pregnancy rates, which can be economically devastating to a cow herd. This drop in pregnancy rates usually occurs 50 to 60 days post breeding.

If you are able to get those cows rebred, those calves will be born at least 60 days later than the rest of the herd. And, factoring in the average weight gain of 1.5 to 2 pounds per day, the calf will be about 120 pounds lighter than the rest of the calf crop. At today’s prices, producers will take a significant loss.
Because this is a disease that goes with cattle movement, several states are monitoring the bulls that cross their borders. “Most states have regulations to restrict the movement of breeding bulls,” Dr. Ensley says. “Bulls crossing state borders have to be trich-tested before they can enter the state.”

“I would be very selective with what you use as replacements in your herd,” adds Dr. Ensley. “If you are going to the sale barn to buy cows, make sure they are at least four months pregnant. And, if you are buying bulls, buy young bulls that haven’t been exposed to cows. That significantly reduces the risk of introducing trich to your herd.”

If trich is known to be in your area, it is also important to vaccinate with TrichGuard or TRICHGUARD V5L, because it only takes one exposure for your herd to become infected.

“If your herd, or your neighbor’s herd, tests positive for trich, you should consider vaccinating until the bulls are negative and the cow herd has been cleaned up,” concludes Dr. Ensley.

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