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Ozarks Farmers Experience Rise in Parasite Affecting Cattle


Within the last 6 to 8 months, a certain parasite has been affecting local cattle herds more than ever before. The parasite is a growing concern among cattle farmers in Missouri, because it leads to problems with infertility and shrinking herds. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has this report.

Trichomoniasis, otherwise known as “trich,” is an infertility disease in cattle. It’s traditionally been more common in the Northern and Western United States. However, over the last five years, there has been a steady increase in cases found in Missouri, with most appearing in the southwest region of the state. “Trich” is a protozoan parasite that resides in the reproductive tract of a bull. Eldon Cole is regional livestock specialist for the University of Missouri Extension, and suggests two main reasons for this increase. The first is better testing methods are now available.

Cole says another reason is that the disease doesn’t have any noticeable symptoms. This makes it difficult to know whether cattle are affected without having them tested.

“Part of it could be blamed on just the use of bulls from one herd to another without being tested and found to be clean. People might be borrowing bulls from a neighbor, or there are some who rent bulls some from different firms. And if those bulls are not tested clean before they go out, they do carry that risk of transmitting that disease,” Cole said.

There is no current cure for Trichomoniasis, and bulls which carry the protozoa can no longer be used for breeding. Cole adds that positive bulls should be slaughtered for beef, and that there is no risk for human consumption. He says female cows that are affected by “trich” can still be used for breeding, once they are given time to recover and are only bred with healthy bulls.

“The state of Missouri put in some stricter requirements for older bulls, non-virgin bulls, as they come into the state. The must now be tested and found clean if you would be bringing in a bull say from Kansas, Iowa or somewhere else. So far we do not have any restrictions on movement of bulls within the state,” said Cole.

Cole does anticipate future restrictions regulating the handling of bulls within the state of Missouri. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.