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Animal Health

Livestock Board amends its rules for managing brucellosis in Wyoming

Written by Jennifer Womack
Cheyenne – Following several months of discussion and debate, members of the Wyoming Livestock Board mid-January approved revisions to the agency’s Chapter 2 Brucellosis Rules. The rules outline testing, vaccination, identification and management protocols for those livestock producers who ranch in areas where wildlife carries the disease brucellosis.
    Most of the rules within Chapter 2 apply to cattle ranchers within the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) for brucellosis. At this time, the WLSB opted to retain portions of Park County within the DSA. During the Jan. 14 meeting Wyoming State Veterinarian Walter Cook said, “I think we’d be remiss to do away with testing in Park County given the data we have.” Work is underway, including the testing of blood samples collected by hunters this past fall with results yet to be compiled, to gather additional information on the brucellosis sero-prevalence levels among elk in that area.
    In the meantime, the WLSB’s Chapter 2 Brucellosis Rules include all of Sublette and Teton counties, the portions of Lincoln County north of the Bridger-Teton National Forest boundary, Fremont County west of the Wind River Indian Reservation and the western half of Park County with Highway 120 serving as the dividing line.
     According to the draft rules, “female bovinae” over 12 months of age must be vaccinated against brucellosis prior to a change of ownership and carry individual identification. According to Assistant State Veterinarian Jim Logan the age at which animals must be identified has been reduced from a previous 18 months down to 12 months old. Exceptions on the vaccination are made for cattle heading direct to slaughter and those moving to a WLSB-approved feedlot. Wyoming State Veterinarian approval is required to vaccinate heifers over 12 months of age.
    The rules also require that all “sexually intact female domestic Bovinae grazed or kept within the DSA including the boundaries of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Shoshone National Forest and the Targhee National Forest” are vaccinated as calves or at older than 12 months with Wyoming State Veterinarian approval. An exception is made for heifer calves at their “mother’s side.”
    Testing females within the DSA for brucellosis is also required prior to a change of ownership. According to the rules, “All test eligible female bovinae within the DSA are required to be tested negative for brucellosis within 30 days prior to a change of ownership, interstate movement, or prior to leaving the DSA. Those destined for an approved livestock market must be tested negative for brucellosis within 30 days of leaving the auction market including those test eligible cattle sold for slaughter. Test eligible females destined for out-of-state sale barns must test negative for brucellosis before leaving the DSA. Exceptions are made for cattle heading straight to slaughter from the farm or ranch of origin, those moving to approved feedlots, those moving on commuter permits and those from a certified brucellosis free herd.
    “All breeding cattle from the DSA, regardless of their age will have to be tested before change of ownership,” said Logan of one of the more significant changes. “Up until now, cattle under 18 months of age didn’t have to be tested. Now, even if they’re sold at six months of age and are known to be sold for breeding purposes, they’ll have to be tested.”
    Cattle from outside of the DSA will no longer be tested for brucellosis at the state’s sale barns. During the recent WLSB meeting, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Area Vet in Charge Brett Combs pointed out that testing of those cattle has been very costly with very little return. “This should save the state a substantial amount of money that can be used within the DSA for brucellosis mitigation effort, including spaying and adult vaccination if pending legislation is approved,” said Logan.
     The WLSB’s revised brucellosis rules will be available for public comment before month’s end with the comment period spanning 50 days. “We hope there will be some well-though-out public comments based on maintaining our brucellosis free status and continuing to market cattle from all areas of Wyoming without too many hurdles,” said Logan. Expressing livestock industry wide frustration with the disease of brucellosis he said, “Unfortunately we’re in a situation where the WLSB can do very little about the source of brucellosis.”
     Watch future editions of the Roundup for details on submitting comments on the WLSB’s Draft Chapter 2 Brucellosis Rules. Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..