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Bulls heading to Texas must be tested for Trichomoniasis

March 2, 2009
By: Jim Dickrell, Dairy Today Editor

Beginning April 1, 2009, breeding bulls entering Texas from any other state must be either 24 months of age or younger and certified as a virgin, or be tested negative for cattle trichomoniasis within 30 days prior to entry.  The entry requirements are part of a regulatory package adopted by the commissioners for the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) February 24 to address trichomoniasis, a venereal disease of cattle that causes infertility and abortions,  and results in extended breeding seasons and diminished calf crops, which costs livestock producers valuable income.  Cattle trichomoniasis is not a human health issue.  The second phase of the program, which will address in-state movement of Texas breeding bulls, will go into effect January 1, 2010.


"Industry members had significant input into the development of these regulations,” said TAHC Commissioner Coleman Locke, who represents the beef industry on the commission and headed the Trichomoniasis Working Group, comprised of producers, market operators, veterinarians, laboratory representatives and educators.  "The 74 comments we received from associations and individuals regarding the proposed regulations were reviewed carefully, and adaptations to the proposed rules were made in the adopted regulations to make the program workable for the producers.”


"We have worked for months with industry members, veterinarians and the working group, to gather information, develop the proposed regulations, and following the conclusion of the comment period, considered all comments to develop a viable, cost-effective program to address this disease that can drain a cattle producer's profits,” said Dr. Bob Hillman, executive director of the TAHC, the state's livestock and poultry health regulatory agency.  "Industry associations and producers asked us to work with them to develop a program that would stop the introduction and unchecked spread of this protozoal disease.  At least 15 other states in the western half of the United States have developed similar trichomoniasis programs to address the disease in their states.” 


"The regulatory components of the Texas' Cattle Trichomoniasis Program will focus only on breeding bulls, which, even when infected, continue to appear and act normally. Under the new regulations, Trichomoniasis also becomes a reportable disease in Texas, which will give us more information on where and how much infection already is in the state,” explained Dr. Hillman.  "There is no effective treatment or vaccine for bulls, and as they age, the surface of their organs becomes more hospitable to the protozoa, perpetuating the infection.”


"Although the primary impact of the disease is on cows, which can become infected during breeding and lose the fetus, the cow herd is not included in the regulations.  The majority of infected cows will clear the infection, if they are given 120 – 150 days of sexual rest.  A vaccine also can be administered to infected cows to help control the disease in the cow herd. The majority of producers who commented on the proposed rule and members of the working group recommended that the disease in the cow herd be managed through information and education efforts.  Producers with infected herds should consult with their veterinarian to determine the most appropriate measures to employ to eliminate the disease from their herds.”                   


Dr. Hillman explained that the interstate, or state-to-state movement, phase of the trichomoniasis regulations will begin April 1, 2009. Breeding bulls entering Texas must be officially identified, and may come certified as virgins, provided they are 24 months of age or younger, and have not commingled with female cattle.  A breeder's certificate must accompany the virgin breeding bull, signed by the breeder, and the information also must be included on the certificate of veterinary inspection. Routine documents also are required, including the certificate of veterinary inspection, and other applicable tuberculosis or brucellosis entry requirements must be met, depending on the state of origin, or if the bull is a beef or dairy animal.


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