Trichomoniasis in cattle | Living the Country Life

Trichomoniasis in cattle

If the birth rate in your cattle herd has been dropping, check for trichomoniasis

A venereal disease in cattle is spreading rapidly. Trichomoniasis, usually referred to as “trich,” has been around for a long time and is under control in most states. However, due to cattle being transported around the country because of drought and other reasons, trich is re-emerging.

Grant Dewell is an extension beef veterinarian at Iowa State University. He says trich is caused by a small protozoa found only in the reproductive organs of the bull and cow, and is transmitted during breeding. The end result is infertility and low pregnancy rates.

"Cows get bred, they become pregnant, but because of this protozoa that’s growing down in that uterus, somewhere around 30-60-days of that pregnancy, this infection will end up killing the fetus and we end up with that cow then losing the fetus," says Dewell.

The female has to cycle twice before the organism is shed from her body and she can be bred again. Once a bull becomes infected, he will have the protozoa for the rest of his life and will continue to transmit the disease if allowed to breed. There is no treatment, so he will have to be culled.

Dewell says your herd won’t be infected unless trichomoniasis is brought in, so choose your breeding animals wisely.
"If you’re going to buy bulls, virgin bulls are going to be your best bet because they can’t be infected until they breed a cow that’s infected," says Dewell. "If you’re going to buy a non-virgin bull or lease a non-virgin bull, I would test that bull at least twice, maybe three-times before I’m going to introduce that bull into my herd. If you’re going to expand your herd, you’re best doing that with either buying virgin heifers, or buying bred heifers from a good source."

Your veterinarian will do the testing for trich. It’s a reportable disease, so if the test is positive, it has to be reported to your state veterinarian. Rules for testing and other regulations will vary state-by-state.

Learn more about trichomoniasis, transmission, and diagnosis

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