STD Awareness Month Doesn’t Just Apply to Humans
Trichomoniasis is a costly sexually transmitted disease that can quickly spread across an entire cattle herd
DULUTH, Ga. (April 1, 2020) — April is STD Awareness Month, and cows
should not be left out of the conversation. “Trichomoniasis, or trich, is a
sexually transmitted disease that has the ability to cut a calf crop in half,”1
stated John Davidson, DVM, senior associate director of beef professional
veterinary services, Boehringer Ingelheim. “A bull’s value can be wiped
out in a single service with an infected cow or heifer.”
animals may show no outward signs, which is why trich often goes unnoticed
until it’s too late. When bulls are infected with trich, it is considered a
lifelong infection with no legal treatment. While cows can clear the disease,
they will likely experience reproductive failures such as infertility, low
pregnancy rates, abortions and pyometra.
little to no understanding of trich are over three times more likely to have
trichomoniasis in their herd.2 Take a moment during
STD Awareness Month to learn about trich, and work with a
veterinarian to put a prevention plan in place that includes testing, bull
selection, record keeping, biosecurity measures and vaccination.
Bull selection and testing
“Since trich is physically undetectable in bulls, testing before turnout is an absolute must,” stressed Dr. Davidson. “A bull’s ticket to change breeding groups or even enter a breeding pasture must be a negative trich test.” To reduce the likelihood of trich introduction, avoid purchasing untested, non-virgin bulls. Though bulls of any age are susceptible, older bulls are more likely to be infected.
also suggest that large operations in at-risk areas conduct post-breeding
testing on bulls,” advised Dr. Davidson. “Prior to testing, sexual rest
should be observed for two to three weeks to improve the chances of detecting
an infected bull.” If one bull is confirmed to have trich, it’s critical to
test all other bulls.
herds can also be a source of spreading the disease, especially those that
utilize open-range grazing. “Stay in touch with neighbors to learn if
trichomoniasis has been identified or tested for,” Dr. Davidson said. “In the
same way, be a good neighbor yourself and talk to your veterinarian about
Vaccination and record keeping
Oftentimes, it takes experience with a trich outbreak and the devastating losses that come with it before the value of vaccination is realized. In heifers, the transmission rate of infection was reported to be 95% after a single mating with a 3-year-old infected bull.2
notes that while there is no legal treatment for food animals with trich, there
is a vaccine
available proven to reduce the shedding of Tritrichomonas foetus, the disease-causing
organism. He encourages producers to read and follow the vaccine label closely.
Proper administration timing is critical for cattle to receive the intended
benefits of a vaccine.
In a large
ranch with multiple breeding pastures, it’s important to know which cows and
bulls have been in each pasture. Ear tags and other identification systems are
helpful to keep track of breeding exposure for bulls and cows.
don’t let your herd be a victim of a reproductive health stigma. Work with a
veterinarian to develop management practices and a vaccination regimen to keep
your herd STD free.
Source: Boehringer Ingelheim