Source: Boehringer Ingelheim
If you get a trich infection in your herd, you have a wreck on your hands come calving time. Trichomoniasis, or trich, is a costly sexually transmitted disease that infected bulls can quickly spread during breeding season, reducing your calf crop by more than 50%. April is Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness month, and cattle should not be left out of the conversation.
Knowing the trich status of the bull battery is essential in trich-prone areas. Before bull turnout, ask the all-important question: has trich been introduced into the herd? Since you won’t know you have a trich problem until calving time, disease surveillance is the best method to detect the presence of the venereal pathogen in the herd. Ideally, trich tests should be performed during the bull breeding soundness examination before turnout and also after breeding is complete.
There is currently no approved treatment for trich, and with such a volatile beef market, it’s a disease beef producers can’t afford to ignore. The reasons behind the harsh impact trich has on beef herds is threefold:
1. There is a reduced calf crop of up to 50% due to early embryonic loss or abortion.
2. Lighter weaning weight resulting from delayed conception.
3. Infected cattle must be culled and replaced, thereby losing the herd’s genetic improvement.
Neighboring herds can also be a source of spreading the disease, especially in herds that utilize open-range grazing. “Stay in touch with neighbors to learn if trich has been identified or tested for in their herds. In the same way, be a good neighbor yourself and talk to your local veterinarian about testing your herd for trich very soon,” recommends Boehringer Ingelheim senior professional services veterinarian John Davidson.
To know if your herd is at a higher risk level, visit TrichRegs.com, which indicates which states are commonly impacted by trich, as well as your state’s animal health agency. Research indicates that ranchers with little to no understanding of trich are 3.3 times more likely to have an infected bull. Davidson strongly suggests producers visit TrichConsult.org to up their knowledge on the disease.
While there is no approved treatment for trich, there is a vaccine available that has been proven to reduce the shedding of T. foetus, the disease-causing organism. A 1992 study compared pregnancy and calving rates between vaccinated beef heifers and control heifers after heifers were exposed to T. foetus-infected bulls and intravaginally inoculated with 10 million T. foetus organisms. Vaccinated heifers delivered twice the number of calves – 61% versus 31% – compared to non-vaccinated control heifers.
Reproductive health of the herd shouldn't be an avoided conversation, and trich should be managed the other 11 months of the year, too. Take control today and put management practices in place to avoid a trich wreck.