Advancing your herd’s genetic base requires a tremendous commitment of time and financial resources. Unfortunately, reproductive diseases can erase the benefits of those investments in short order.
Reproduction can be impacted by multiple diseases, with three major ones potentially impacting your herd, says Doug Ensley, DVM, Professional Services Veterinarian with Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., based in Athens, Ga. “Leptospirosis, Trichomoniasis and Vibriosis all need to be prevented to protect the reproductive integrity of your herd,” he says.
While these diseases vary in their causative organisms and modes of action, the results of all three are painfully similar. Ensley says Leptospirosis, Trichomoniasis, and Vibriosis can interfere with conception and can cause early embryonic death, while Leptospirosis also can cause late-term abortions and weak calves. Trichomoniasis also can cause abortions up to four months of gestation.
“Often, the first sign of these diseases is open cows at pregnancy checking or a reduced calf crop,” says Ensley. “By then, the best opportunity to achieve efficient reproduction and uniform calving dates has been lost, not to mention the investment that may have been made in genomics testing and high-value semen.” Additional losses may be incurred with the decreased weights of the calves born later in your calving season, and because some animals eventually may need to be culled from the herd and replaced.
Those setbacks are complicated by the fact that, once infected, animals need to resolve the infections before fertility can be restored. For example, Ensley says it takes up to three months for Trichomoniasis to clear from the uterus of infected cows, and animals harboring Leptospirosis in their kidney tissue can shed the disease-causing organism in their urine for the rest of their lives.
Vaccine protection is available for all three diseases, but Ensley says the timing of vaccination is critical. “Traditionally, preg checking has been a convenient time to also administer vaccines,” he says. “But that’s too late to protect the conceptus from these diseases.” Ideally, he would like to see vaccination initiated at least 30 days prior to breeding to ensure protection before conception.
Ensley says appropriate vaccine selection depends on herd history and local disease conditions, and should be based on the advice of the herd veterinarian. Vaccines that offer a broad range of coverage can be helpful in protecting against more than one of the diseases. For example, Citatdel VL5 covers Vibrio and five strains of Lepto. Express FP 5 VL5 protects against IBR, BVD Types I and II, PI3, BRSV, Vibrio and five strains of Lepto, including the highly virulent Lepto hardjo-bovis strain.