Trichomoniasis is a disease that causes early embryonic death, abortions and infertility in beef herds. The disease, caused by a protozoan Tritrichomonas foetus, has become more prevalent in several states. Veterinarians at Kansas State University note that infection in the cow occurs primarily by ex-posure to an infected bull at breeding. Typically the pregnancy progresses to about 60 to 120 days with a peak loss between 70 to 90 days, at which time the fetus dies and is absorbed or aborted. The K-State veterinary team offers the following recommendations for managing against this costly disease.
- Send all tritrichomonas test-positive bulls to slaughter.
- Retest bulls (three negative tests) for tritrichomonas prior to each breeding season.
- Test all imported bulls regardless of age (three negative tests to enter herd).
- Keep the average bull age as young as possible. Some experts recommend removing bulls greater than 3 years of age — others suggest that aggressive annual testing of bulls plus removal of bulls greater than 5 years of age is adequate.
- Maintain a controlled breeding season to allow assessment of reproductive performance.
- Cull all open cows.
- Remove bulls after no more than a four-month breeding season. Examine the herd for pregnancy and cull all open heifers and cows.
- Cull all cows that have a tritrichomonas-positive abortion.
- At pregnancy palpation watch for pyometras in cows; cull any cows with a pyometra.
- Increase efforts to keep neighbor cows and bulls out, and inform neighbors of the situation.
- Consider vaccinating cows eight weeks and four weeks prior to breeding.