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Veterinarian explains how trichomoniasis can be detrimental to producer’s herds

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Bovine trichomoniasis, commonly referred to as trich, is a venereal disease caused by the microscopic protozoa bacteria Tritrichomonas foetus. This disease is more common in the Mountain States region, however, trich has been found in many herds throughout the entire country.  

“I have never seen a disease with the economic devastation affecting a cow/calf producer like trich,” says Boehringer Ingelheim Veterinarian Dr. John Davidson.  

Impact of trich 

The impact trich has on a herd is devastating to producers and lasts several years. 

“Trich can affect a herd in many ways,” Davidson explains. “Once a bull with trich gets into a herd of cows, producers will notice one of two things – an increase of open cows or a long calving season.” 

Additionally, he adds, a cow with trich can’t be considered bred until they have passed the 120-day mark in pregnancy. Usually, cows with trich will abort the calf.  

These cows will cycle back into heat after their body has fought off the infection from T foetus. Once the infection is gone, the cow can be considered safe until the next breeding year. 

“The best way to control trich once it has entered a herd is to cull infected cattle,” Davidson notes. “A bull will often be chronically affected by trich.”  

He continues, “No treatment is available and producers lose calves when these bulls breed cows. A producer’s best bet is to cull bulls and end the vicious cycle.” 

“Infected bulls are hard to identify because, unlike cows, bulls show no symptoms,” he says. “Several states have started to require mandatory trich testing because of this.” 

Trich will also increase the length of calving season. Davidson notes this is because it can take anywhere from two to four months for a cow to clear up the infection.  

Most times, the inflammatory response occurs within 18 days of an infected breeding. Typically, cows will return to their normal 21-day cycle. In most situations, however, aborting the fetus will occur between 50 and 60 days after breeding.  

Recovering from a trich infection 

There are several steps producers must take when recovering from the impact trich has had on cowherds. 

“Producers can see up to a 50 percent decrease in calf crop after a trich outbreak,” Davidson shares. “For a 100-head operation, this means a producer could lose $20,000 or more.” 

He adds, producers spend a lot of money replacing culled cattle . Additionally, they are also set back on their genetic progress within their herd.  

“Producers will likely see less profit on the calves they have left,” Davidson says. “Later conception dates result in smaller, lighter calves at weaning.” 

In fact, he shares a calf born 60 days later than the rest of the herd will be about 120 pounds lighter than their contemporaries, even if they gain two pounds per day. Roughly, he says, a producer will lose $150 per late-born calf. 

Herd prevention 

There is no treatment for trich, so the best way for producers to deal with the disease is to prevent their herd from being exposed to it. 

“The only way to never come in contact with trich is to prevent it,” Davidson states. “Buying virgin bulls or bulls with a negative trich test is a good example of preventative measures producers can take.” 

He continues to explain once bulls get out into the herd and start breeding, it is extremely hard to contain the spread of trich. 

Producers should carefully consider and test any replacement cattle entering the herd. It is a good idea to work with a veterinarian to find a strong vaccination program to help herds fight off diseases. 

Information in this article was compiled from a Boehringer Ingelheim YouTube series titled Ready, Set, Vet – Cattle Health Advice.  

                  Madi Slaymaker is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to 

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