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What the beef industry is doing to deal with trich

What the beef industry is doing to deal with trich

One way to deal with a thief is with a neighborhood watch program. But what if it’s a silent thief?

That’s what Keith Roehr, Colorado state veterinarian, calls trichomonaisis — a silent thief. The question is, does the beef industry have an effective neighborhood watch program to deal with it?

Not yet, but that’s changing. Roehr tells me that 27 states, mostly in the West, have trich regulations. However, those regulations are not uniform.

However, an effort spearheaded by NCBA and put into action by states and state veterinarians is encouraging states with trich regulations to make their programs more uniform. Those uniformity goals are these: PCR is the accepted testing method; test results will be valid for 60 days; and the test-eligible age for bulls is 18 months.

Presently, six states have already adopted those standards. Another eight to 10 are rewriting their trich regs to move closer to uniformity, and about that many more agree with the targets but haven't opened their regs yet. Four states indicate they have no intention of changing.

“But in all, in the 27 states that regulate trich, if 23 of those can agree and over the next few years make the regulations uniform, I think that’s a great success story,” Roehr says.

Indeed it is. Even if states can agree on two of the three proposed standards, that will help ease the regulatory burden on vets and producers.

Here's one example of why that needs to happen. Currently, there is a lot of inconsistency in testing protocol and results. Some producers say that they can test bulls in the fall, when they pull them off the cows, and they come up negative. They test again before spring turnout, and one or two will test positive.

That may not entirely be a problem with testing protocol; bulls, after all, will hop a fence if given the proper incentive. But by making the testing protocol uniform, the industry can more effectively refine its efforts to control the disease.

And control is ultimately the key. While easing the regulatory burden is laudable, it’s only half the battle. Reducing incidence of the disease is the real battle.

What’s more, setting a standard for more uniform trich regs will serve the industry well in other cattle-producing regions. Roehr says trich is surfacing in cattle-producing states in the Southeast, and some are starting to develop rules. It’s likely, within the next 10 years, that most of the cattle-producing states in the Southeast will have trich regs.

As those states move to control the disease, they will be well-served to look West and work toward uniformity in their regulations. They will find, as Roehr points out, that much of the homework has already been done.

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