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Trichomoniasis Threatens New Mexico Herd

01 June 2010

US - Trichomoniasis, or 'trich' has been found in cattle herds in New Mexico. Affecting reproductive efficiency, if not tackled immediately the disease has the potential to be a major economic loss to ranchers.

Trichomoniasis, or "trich", is a venereal disease of cattle that does not make bulls or cows outwardly sick, but which results in the loss of reproductive efficiency of affected herds, said John Wenzel, New Mexico State University extension veterinarian.

"The loss of reproductive efficiency is due to the loss of pregnancy and the lengthening of the calving season," Wenzel said. "Bulls are a mechanical spreader during the breeding season, and the infection is maintained in a herd by infected bulls and chronically infected cows called "carrier cows"."

"We're concerned because it has been going around and it has a potential to be a major economic loss to ranchers," said Eddy County Agriculture Agent, Woods Houghton.

"It's something you can't solve ranch-by-ranch," he said. "The whole community has to come together.

"Trich has been documented in every state west of the Mississippi River and several states in the southeastern US," Mr Houghton said.

To fight its spread, Mr Houghton said agriculture officials are urging testing of potentially infected animals and promoting a programme that establishes a breeding season to better monitor herds.

"We're trying to set procedures to set up a breeding period and then get producers to test their bulls over time," he said. "We want to test them before the breeding season, after the breeding season, and then again before the next breeding season.

"If we test them after the breeding season and they're clean, then they're okay," he said.

Mr Houghton said that 97 per cent of cows will shed the disease if they're given a four- to five-month rest after breeding. Bulls can become chronic carriers.

"In my experience in working with ranchers, if you don't take care of trichomoniasis, you're going to lose money," he said.

He noted that in this area, some fences date back to the 1930s and '40s and are in a bad state of repair, often allowing bulls to move undetected from one herd to another.

"Our livestock board has made some appropriate regulations that are not overly burdensome to producers," he said. "Working with your neighbours and testing the bulls is cheaper than repairing the fences in the long run."

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