Disease-related livestock rules to be outlined at meeting

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

New state livestock rules prompted by a spreading reproductive disease in cattle will be outlined Monday at a special informational meeting.

Called Trichomoniasis, the disease is becoming a problem for New Mexico beef producers.

The meeting will cover the state of the disease in the area, management options and New Mexico Livestock Board rules dealing with control of “trich,” as the disease is commonly called.

“I would say it’s the most important cattle disease we are dealing with at this time, statewide,” said New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Veterinarian John Wenzel, who is set to speak at the meeting.

Wenzel said producers need to be aware of trich’s importance and how to protect their herds.

Trich is a sexually transmitted bovine disease that causes abortions in pregnant cows. It decreases the number of calves ranchers have to sell, hurting their revenue, said Roosevelt County Extension Agent Patrick Kircher.

Bovine trich is different from the version of Trichomoniasis that infects humans, and Kircher said it cannot be passed from cattle to humans.

“It’s not an issue for the general public by any stretch of the imagination,” Kircher said. “It’s just one for cattle producers.”

However, he said beef cattle production is a part of eastern New Mexico.

According to the most recent New Mexico Agricultural Statistics, Roosevelt County had 14,000 beef cows in 2009.

Wenzel said New Mexico had 232 bulls known to have trich in 2009. While the disease has been found around the state, he said, southeastern, southwestern and north central New Mexico are hotbeds.

If a cow is infected with trich, she either remains infected and can’t have calves, or she takes so long to heal that her next calf is born at an unusual time of year.

“So herds that get infected, it’s not uncommon to end up with a 40- or 50-percent calf crop, which is economically devastating,” Kircher said.

Bulls that catch the disease remain infected and contagious for life, he said. Cows with trich can be quarantined until they heal and vaccinated, but Kircher said it’s easier to slaughter affected animals.

“If people want to stay in the ranching business, they have to take a proactive approach,” Kircher also said.

As for the Livestock Board rules, Wenzel said they deal with quarantining infected herds, the sale of breeding bulls and moving bulls in and out of the state. Bulls a year old or more must test negative for trich before they’re sold for breeding.

Wenzel said the rules will impact every producer because they all buy bulls.