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Wyoming Stock Growers discuss livestock health in committee meeting

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Casper – Brucellosis and trichomoniasis demanded the majority of the Livestock Health and Production committee’s time during their meeting at the 2009 Wyoming Stock Growers and Wyoming Wool Growers Joint Winter Convention in Casper early December.

Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan brought attendees up to date on the current brucellosis situation in Wyoming before discussing the new Brucellosis Concept Paper. He explained that brucellosis is currently dealt with on an emergency basis resulting in a quarantine of infected and adjacent herds. Depopulation of infected herds must occur within 60 days to maintain state status.

“The intent is to change that with this concept (paper) by maintaining the emergency basis, but there wont be a negative effect if multiple herds are found within a designated surveillance area,” Logan explained. “Another aspect of the paper is having producers, “test out of the disease and preserve the herd.” Although Logan admits this won’t always be, “possible or practical… the preference would be to attempt to test out.”

He went on to remind people that if a herd must be depopulated, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) does provide indemnity funds. APHIS wants a voice in forming the rules, but Logan stated, “Basically we want state control, if APHIS has a role in any of this, it would be an advisory role.”

Wyoming Stock Growers Executive Vice President Jim Magagna added, “part of this has to be a commitment from APHIS to actively participate in funding as a partner in managing brucellosis.”
Magagna continued, “We’re going to be partners. We’re going to write the rules, then we’re going to work with you to enforce the rules.”  This enforcement would include both state and any applicable national rules.

Upon the event that the United States is declared brucellosis free and after that time a case is found, it is proposed that it be called a brucellosis emergency and not a foreign animal disease. This is to prevent any further stigmas on the livestock industry and to benefit public perception.

Magagna said he has “a degree of optimism” and is encouraged by APHIS’s willingness to work with the western states after they were unsuccessful using force. The next step will likely be proposed rule making that will include producer comments.

A resurgence in trichomoniasis, not only in Wyoming but in all western states, is another health concern Logan discussed. “Currently Wyoming has three herds still under quarantine for trich, but in July and August we had probably 30 herds that were under quarantine.”

“By June 15 we had tested fewer bulls than were tested in all of 2008, but we already had more cases,” he said.

“We have the Chapter 15 rules that dictate trich test requirements. They haven’t been enforced as well as they needed to be in the last four years and the rules themselves are probably not as strong as they need to be to protect the livestock industry,” said Logan.

An example Logan provided was the requirement of one test for non-virgin bulls run in common. He feels this rule isn’t well enforced as there are “an awful lot of bulls across Wyoming that haven’t been tested.”

Logan went on to state that the goal is for the rule requirements to protect all the producers in the state.

“The only way you can know for certain that you don’t have trich in your herd is to test your bulls. You can have a 90-plus percent pregnancy test rate and still have trich in your herd,” said Logan, encouraging producers not to “fool yourself” by believing you don’t have trich without testing for proof.

“Trich is most likely a lot more significant from a fiscal standpoint than brucellosis is unless you get brucellosis in your herd. It’s not going to go away by just having rules,” he said.

Logan recommends testing bulls two to three weeks after the breeding season ends.

“Give them rest and the organism time to grow if it’s there,” he said. The current rules include a much broader time frame, which could allow the organism time to subside in some cases.

“One mandatory test statewide would help locate the problem,” said Logan. After that test efforts could be concentrated around infected areas instead of “piddling” around.
Ultimately, according to Logan, “It has to be an industry driven thing.”

UW College of Ag and Natural Resources Dean Frank Galey presented information on behalf the Consortium for the Advancement of Brucellosis Science. He explained that advanced research in the areas of a vaccine and better diagnostics are the top priority. The research will be partially funded with seed money from the state. The group is currently attempting to obtain more funds. Once a sufficient amount of money has been raised research will begin.

“We would like to see this group embrace this,” Galey said. A resolution was presented to the committee stating the WSGA would actively support the Consortium and assist in securing funds for research. After minimal discussion the resolution was passed.

In the meeting Don Montgomery of the State Vet Lab in Laramie gave a brief update on the lab expansion project. According to Montgomery the project is currently under budget, but two months behind schedule. The schedule issues include weather-related delays and two large pieces of equipment: a sterilizer and an incinerator. The project should be completed on schedule and under budget. Montgomery, and the rest of the state vet lab staff, “are committed to continuing to provide our services,” he said, despite any construction related disruptions.

The final resolution discussed at the meeting would have supported possible legislation allowing those other than licensed veterinarians to charge for pregnancy checking livestock. Following several minutes of heated debate, the resolution was defeated.   

Livestock health and disease continue to be areas of interest and concern for producers, researchers and veterinarians alike. The WSGA is taking an active role to eradicate problem diseases from the state by keeping members informed and supporting entities that provide research and other beneficial projects.

Heather Hamilton is editor for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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