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Two bulls in Iowa positive for trich

Two bulls in southwest Iowa have tested positive for trichomoniasis, a venereal disease in cattle. State agriculture officials made the announcement June 1 and issued a quarantine order for the facility where the two bulls were tested.

“Bovine trichomoniasis is a reportable disease in Iowa and must be reported to our office,” says David Schmitt, state veterinarian with the Iowa Department of Agriculture. There are no clinical signs of illness in bulls with this disease, but it can be spread to cows and cause infertility.

The state ag department issued a statement saying the quarantine order for the facility where the disease was found will remain in place until further testing confirms the disease is no longer present in the herd. The two animals were sent to slaughter, and their meat poses no risk to human consumption.

Key Points

Bulls in southwest Iowa test positive for venereal disease.

These are the first known cases in Iowa; other states have it.

Farmers are encouraged to test bulls for disease before buying.


The entire herd that the two bulls were in has been placed under quarantine. The district veterinarian with the ag department worked with the herd veterinarian and the owner immediately and developed a herd plan. The owner is not restricted from selling calves or virgin bulls since this disease was discovered.

Farmers who are buying bulls are encouraged to make sure the animals are tested for the disease before being introduced into their herd, says Schmitt. Another option to take to avoid this disease is to buy virgin bulls.

Disease heads east

These are the first known cases of the disease in Iowa, but there have been more than 200 cases in Missouri. This disease has always been thought of as a western U.S. disease, but as more cattle have been transported across the United States in recent years, the disease has become present farther east.

While Iowa doesn’t require testing of animals for trichomoniasis, other nearby states such as Missouri and Nebraska do require testing of animals coming into the state for breeding purposes. Schmitt says it has been discussed about making testing for trich a requirement for non-virgin bulls coming into Iowa.

Texas implemented a testing requirement on non-virgin bulls in 2009 to help prevent the spread of more of the disease across the state, as it was already present in parts of Texas. The disease is costly for producers, and it can put them out of business if they don’t act to control it. One Texas producer lost a third of his calf crop in each of the two years trich was introduced into his herd, a common report from herds that have the disease.

If a herd gets the disease, it’s important to pregnancy-check cows to determine open cows. This disease causes early-term abortions, and open cows can sometimes be carrying the disease. “We suggest selling open cows,” says Schmitt. “They should be designated for slaughter, especially cows that have run with a bull, which ended up being tested positive. That way those cows cannot pass trich on to another bull.”

Schmitt emphasizes, “It’s always important to know where your animals are coming from so disease problems can be prevented. With this disease, farmers buying bulls are encouraged to make sure the bulls are tested for the disease before being introduced into the herd, or else purchase virgin bulls.”

Source: Iowa Dept. of Agriculture

This article published in the July, 2012 edition of WALLACES FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.