Wyo Livestock Board releases revised rules for scrapie, trichomoniasisWritten by Saige Albert
On Jan. 22, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) released its Chapter 13 Scrapie Prevention and Management and Chapter 15 Trichomoniasis (trich) rules for public comment. The 45-day comment period is open until March 11.
Both rules were previously released, with comments ending Sept. 4, 2015. After several changes and revisions, the WLSB released the rules again for comments.
After the first release, public comments and a new proposed federal scrapie rule resulted in changes to the rule deemed “significant” by the Wyoming Attorney General.
Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan explains, “Chapter 13 adds the requirement that all sexually intact goats must be identified prior to transfer of ownership. By doing so, it makes our rule more congruent with the expected federal scrapie rule.”
Logan also noted that the final federal rule has not yet been released.
Scrapie, a neurological disease of sheep and goats, is caused by an abnormal protein that causes a transmissible spongiform neuropathy similar to mad cow disease.
“The proposed rule provides guidance to the sheep and goat industries in the prevention of scrapie, which includes procedures to prevent spread within and between flocks,” WLSB said. “The revisions update citations to federal regulations, add a penalty for violations and clarify identification and recordkeeping requirements.”
Logan explained, “The scrapie rule will have an impact on producers. Those goat producers who have not had to identify their goats in a lot of situations will now have to put ID on all sexually intact animals.”
Clarifications in the most recent version of the Chapter 15 rules implement new testing strategies, which the WLSB marks as “financially beneficial to the industry.”
The new testing requirements specify the use of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to identify the trichomonas organism that causes trichomoniasis.
“The main thing in the Chapter 15 rules is the addition of pooled testing,” Logan explained.
The original intent of the first rule was also to eliminate culture testing from the rule.
“The new version also specifies that we will not accept the culture test anymore,” Logan said.
Revisions further clarify certain testing requirements, movement restrictions for known-infected herds and exposed herds, veterinarian certification requirements and identification requirements.
“The new trich rule will have a very positive impact for producers and create a more user-friendly, veterinary-friendly, cost-friendly approach by allowing pooling,” he added. “I think, in the big picture, these rules will get us closer to identifying all trich cases in the state.”
Trich rules: WLSB adopts trich rules for new yearWritten by Saige Albert
With a full agenda for their March 11 conference call, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) adopted a board order concerning the trichonomiasis (trich) special focus area.
Board Order 2013-01B addressed several changes that were necessary in the trichomoniasis special focus area. The order passed, though not unanimously, after much discussion from the board related to seedstock exemptions and more stringent.
“Trichomoniasis is a venereal disease of cattle which causes infertility and early term abortion in infected cows,” the WLSB said. “Infected bulls are considered affected for life and may transmit the disease to every cow they breed. Infected cows will transmit the disease to any bull that breeds them.”
“This disease is economically devastating to the cattle industry and the board’s actions are intended to help clean up the significant problem in Uinta, Lincoln and Sweetwater counties,” they continued.
Because last year’s original order required some updates, the WLSB also tackled several concerns with the order during the meeting.
One area of major controversy was whether or not to allow an exemption for testing for seedstock producers.
“I would like to request the exemption for seedstock producers, understanding that there has been some abuse and some problems,” commented a Fort Bridger seedstock producer.
Logan added that there is no evidence that seedstock virgin bulls perpetuate trich, as the disease is acquired when bulls breed an infected cow.
“I understand not wanting an exemption,” said Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan, “but I think we have to weigh the expense to producers.”
Logan also commented that there is an exemption application that must be completed, and exemptions are granted at the discretion of the State Veterinarian. Additionally, very few exemptions were requested in the original board order related to the special focus area.
However, another area producer noted that those well-run operations that would request the exemption aren’t providing a problem in the first place.
“We understand where producers with well-run operations are coming from in not wanting to test virgin seedstock bulls,” he said, “but not everyone runs cattle that way.”
“We have a major problem in this area, and we have to get a handle on it now,” he added, noting that the exemption has the further likelihood of spreading the disease.
New WLSB member Bob Lucas added, “My experience is that it’s not the good producers that are the problem – it is the irresponsible ones. I’d hate to see good, responsible producers penalized for running a good show.”
After voting, however, the WLSB approved an exemption for seedstock producers, noting that an exemption application must be filled out and would be granted only after Logan’s review of the operation and consultation with the herd veterinarian.
As a result, any bull purchased from a seedstock producer with an exemption would not be required to be tested.
Among concerns for the spread of trichonomiasis, the WLSB identified that herd with year around calving may propagate the disease further. As a result, the amended board order required additional testing for those herds.
“Owners of herds without a single six month or less calving season must gather all bulls and have them tested at six month intervals,” Logan explained. “We all know producers who calve all year long, and that is one way trich is perpetuated.”
In order to attempt to control trich in those herds, the WLSB order requires a test every six months for those bulls.
Three tests will also be required for exposed bulls, as described in the WLSB Chapter 15 rules.
“Chapter 15 defines exposed bulls as any bovine that has had commingling or fence line contact with an infected herd,” explained Logan.
One producer commented, “I think we are missing some of these bulls with the error percentage of the test. If the test isn’t as accurate, we ought to require more testing.”
Logan explained that, if done properly, both the culture and PCR tests are between 70 and 75 percent accurate. A second test would increase the likelihood of finding positive bulls to 80 to 85 percent, and a third test increases the chances that all bulls with trich are found to 90 to 95 percent.
The board order requires, as a results, that any bull exposed to a herd in which trichomoniasis has been diagnosed be required to test negative by three culture tests; one culture and one PCR test; or two PCR tests before being turned in with female cattle.
The WLSB directed Logan to develop a more stringent application for the exemption for seedstock producers.
Any producer with questions related to the Trichomoniasis Board Order should contact State Veterinarian Jim Logan at 307-857-4140 or Assistant State Veterinarian Bob Meyer at 307-777-6440.
WLSB implements focus area for trichWritten by Christy Martinez
The order, which was effective immediately, requires all bulls nine months of age and older that originate in or are brought into the area defined must be tested for trichomoniasis one time prior to May 31, 2012 and before being turned in with female cattle. This requirement applies to all bulls, whether they are run on common grazing pastures or run on private property with or without commingling with other producers’ cattle.
“There has been a lot of trich found in that area within the defined boundaries, and the producers in that area came to us and asked us to do something,” says Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan of the board’s decision, mentioning lack of testing and open cows as prime ways to perpetuate the disease. “It’s not getting cleaned up, and it’s beginning to affect a lot of producers.”
In Lincoln County the focus area excludes the area north and east of Fontenelle Creek Road, and in Sweetwater County the order excludes the area south of Interstate 80 and west of the Green River, south to the Colorado state line.
According to the WLSB, all bulls that are required to be tested must be branded with the current owner’s registered Wyoming brand or seasonal brand, and all tested bulls must be identified with a current year WLSB trichomoniasis test identification tag. Trichomoniasis test results must be provided to the WLSB within 30 days of the test results and before the bulls are turned in with any female cattle.
Bulls that are running at large within the defined focus area that are not identified with the proper trichomoniasis test identification tag may be taken up and held with proper care, with notice given to the board, and appropriate investigative action will be taken.
Every bull must be tested
“Anything, even if it’s considered a virgin bull, will have to be tested before it’s turned out,” explains Logan, noting that the existing regulations stipulate that any bull over 24 months of age has to be tested.
“This order means every bull in the country, not only those going out to common grazing situations, needs to be tested, even if they’re on a producer’s own property with no commingling,” he clarifies of the significant differences between existing regulations and the board order.
In addition to testing, all bulls must be identified as part of the board order.
“Any bull that is turned out has to be identified with a trich test tag for the current breeding season,” says Logan. “That includes the virgin bulls that have an exemption – they need a virgin tag from a veterinarian.”
Although the board hasn’t yet finalized virgin tag requirements, Logan says he will ask at their next meeting for a requirement that all bulls turned out in common grazing, even virgin bulls with an exemption, have some type of virgin bull/trich identification.
“If bulls get turned out with no identification at all, we don’t know if they’re virgin or something that nobody bothered to have tested,” he says.
Through the measures required by the board order, Logan says he suspects there will be an increase of 50 percent more bulls tested for trich, and perhaps more.
Of the measure that may seem extreme to some, Logan says, “If we’re going to get this cleaned up, we’ll have to do these types of things.”
Logan says enforcement will be done in part by local brand inspectors, because bull owners won’t be able to get an inspection clearance until their bulls have been tested. However, he says the real enforcement will be by the industry itself.
“If the industry is aware of violators – the people who haven’t tested but who have bulls with no trich tags out with female cattle – they should notify the board and we will enforce it,” says Logan. “The industry will have to step up and help with enforcement, or it won’t be effective.”
Logan hopes the board put the order in effect soon enough for bull owners to get the required testing completed before they move their animals this spring. He recommends that bull owners do the trich testing at least a week in advance of movement, to give vets time to get the sample and send it to the lab for culturing and testing.
Of how long the board order will be in effect, Logan says the WLSB will have to wait to see how things clean up this year.
“It’s conceivable the order could only be in effect this year, but I’d look for it to be longer,” he predicts.
The WLSB will open its Chapter 15 trichomoniasis rules this year to further address infected herds, quarantines, identification of bulls and other issues pertinent to trichomoniasis in Wyoming cattle. The board will accept informal public comment on the existing rules and on this board order through the coming months.
Seedstock may be exempted
According to the Wyoming Livestock Board’s board order creating a trichomoniasis Special Focus Area in southwest Wyoming, bona fide seedstock producers within the focus area may apply with the state veterinarian for a test exemption for virgin bulls.
“We have developed an application form for a virgin bull exemption for seedstock producers in that area,” says Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan. “We will, on a case-by-case basis, exempt virgin bulls from seedstock operations, but the producers have to fill out the applications, and we have to be satisfied it’s a bona fide seedstock operation, and that they have taken precautions with good enough management to keep the disease at bay.”
The state veterinarian is responsible for verifying virgin status and producers’ management capabilities to assure bulls have not had reproductive exposure.
The application states: Any bull exempted from the trichomoniasis test requirement as a virgin bull must be identified with an Official Trichomoniasis Test Identification Tag applied by a licensed veterinarian, who must sign this virgin bull application and record the Official Trichomoniasis Test Identification Tag numbers on this application.
“When producers apply they will have to list all the bulls’ trich tag numbers, their ages and birthdates, which we’ll verify with local brand inspectors and veterinarians,” notes Logan.
WLSB discusses trichomoniasis board orderWritten by Saige Albert
The Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) convened for a Feb. 11 meeting to discuss the many issues facing the livestock industry in the state, including updates to last year’s Board Order related to the trichomoniasis (trich) special focus area.
“We started talking about this Board Order in late March of 2012,” said Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan. “The order pertains to a special focus area that we established in April of 2012 regarding trich testing in Uinta County, a large portion of Lincoln County and Sweetwater County south of I-80.”
In the Order, number 2012-03, Logan noted that several corrections were necessary to keep it up to date, but also noted that there was concern from producers about several of the requirements.
In its current state, the Order allows an exemption to be granted to seedstock producers within the special focus area. The exemption has resulted in confusion for many.
“I think the WLSB needs to consider whether or not you want to continue to have an exemption,” said Logan. “There were not very many requested or granted last year.”
Logan explained that he received exemption requests from producers within the focus area and producers outside of the focus area who were selling bulls into the area.
“Was the exemption meant to cover only those seedstock producers who reside within the special focus area?” asked Logan. “Furthermore, was it also meant to include seedstock producers who were selling bulls into the focus area and also may have been from outside of Wyoming? We essentially had all three types of exemption requests.”
The confusion extended even to members of the WLSB and will be considered in future drafts of the order.
“As a producer in Uinta and Lincoln County, I have been affected by trich,” explained Rex Weston, explaining that though his bulls were clean prior to turn out on a common allotment, they came back with trichomoniasis. “Are there repercussions to not following the rules?”
Weston’s concerns about enforcement of the WLSB Order were answered by Logan, who noted that it will continue to be important for the industry to monitor and provide information on non-compliance to the WLSB.
“The reality is that our ability to enforce the rule is limited, simply because of the size of the agency compared to the size of Wyoming,” said Logan. “Unless we have information coming to us from producers in a given area who are aware of non-compliance, then our ability to enforce is small. If we are notified, we will take action.”
After receiving tips, Logan noted that brand inspectors, veterinarians or law enforcement for the WLSB follow up, and the resulting penalties for non-compliance could result in citations and fines.
“We are never going to get it cleaned up in this area if people don’t sell their open or late cows and stop putting bulls in with open cows,” Weston noted. “There also has to be some follow up, too.”
Logan agreed that follow up is critical to solving the problem with trichomoniasis.
“There is a lot of confusion between the Order and the Chapter 15 rules,” said Weston. “That creates confusion for producers.”
Confusion with last year’s Board Order resulted in a number of questions from producers in the special focus area.
Producers from the special focus area were also concerned about the Board Order’s ability to effectively clean up trichomoniasis in cattle, particularly when bulls breach fence lines, commingle with female cattle and test positive for trich.
“Even if I require that the bull be tested, if it comes up with trich, it still just came out of my cows,” commented Weston. “Does that put me in a position to litigate?”
Weston noted that commingling with trich positive animals is expensive to clean up.
“I don’t understand how this helps to control the after-effect of commingling,” he added.
Producers on the call also told WLSB members that they would prefer an order that would eliminate the exemption for bulls under nine months of age and would provide for additional testing in those herds that run bulls with their females throughout the year.
Larry Johnson, a producer in the special focus area, said, “I think the under nine-month exemption is worthless. A lot of guys turn out bull calves and say they are under nine months, but they are still breeding cows.”
WLSB Director Leanne Correll additionally noted that the age requirement has put brand inspectors in a difficult position when they suspect bulls are older than producers claim.
“Some of our brand inspectors said they know that the bulls aren’t under nine months old and asked what can they do,” she explained. “We have to take producers by their word, and it has put our brand inspectors in a bad position.”
Moving forward, Logan suggested that the WLSB allow him the opportunity to continue working on language and develop the Order further to address producer concerns.
“I hope we can have something solid by the middle of March to go out so producers know what the requirements are going to be,” Logan said.
Delinquent Brand Fees
During the Feb. 11 Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) conference call, the WLSB discussed changes that have progressed through the legislature in House Bill 4 that allow rule making to establish a delinquent brand fee.
The brand renewal period ends March 1. New legislation allows for the WLSB to identify all brands not renewed by March 1 as delinquent. As such, the brands will be held and may be reissued to the previous owner until Dec. 31, 2013 by paying the renewal fee and a delinquent fee as established by the WLSB.
“The legislature has allowed the WLSB to set the delinquent fee up to $150,” said WLSB Director Leanne Correll. “If we set it too low, there is no incentive to renew brands early or on time.”
After a vote, the WLSB decided to proceed with emergency rules so there won’t be a lapse in time for brand owner’s ability to get a brand reissued and to set the delinquent fee at $150.
“We will also begin the rules promulgation process for the delinquent fee to be added to the permanent rules. During this process, the public will be able to comment on the fee,” said Correll. “It will go in as emergency rules now, pending the approval of the governor.”
To see the draft Board Order, number 2013-01, visit wlsb.state.wy.us/boardmembers.htm
Trich, Dealing with the diseaseWritten by Heather Hamilton
“This started five years ago when 48 percent of my cows were open. The next year we had a decent preg test rate, then the following year we had 12 percent open and we thought we were winning. Then two years ago we had 20 percent of our cows open and 33 percent last fall,” says northeast Wyoming rancher Lloyd Davis of what he suspects is trichomoniasis (trich) in his cow herd.
“Based on our symptoms, the University of Wyoming (UW) said we had trich. So we tested our bulls the three necessary times and they all came back negative. UW decided the bulls were clean at that point, and two vets told me it was dumb to sell that many bulls. Now I wish I had sold every single one of them,” adds Davis.
Some of Davis’s bulls have been tested as many as nine times, and they’ve always come up clean. Then last summer a neighbor’s bull got into Davis’s cows. That bull tested dirty, while Davis’ bulls continued to test clean.
“Our bulls tested clean five times, but the neighbor ended up with a dirty bull. It seems funny the neighbor came up with a dirty bull when they don’t have any symptoms in their own herd and our bulls were clean and 30 percent of the cows in that pasture were open.
“I trust that my vet and everyone at UW is doing a great job and is really working with us, but I question the validity of the test after that experience. They kept telling me my bulls were just tested and are clean, yet that dirty bull came out of my pasture. Somewhere, something isn’t matching up. I don’t know if they can miss it in bulls, but with the number of open cows I had last fall there is no way all those bulls were clean,” he adds.
Being able to test a bull found on your place is one option Davis believes producers should have the right to exercise.
“I don’t care if I have to pay for the test. If he’s carrying something, it’s a lot cheaper to pay $15 or $20 than to get a 50 percent calf crop the following year. If my bull wasn’t where he belonged I would happy to let that guy test him, too,” notes Davis.
The mandatory quarantine is another aspect Davis says is all right.
“The quarantine is unhandy, but it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened. If your herd is in this mess and you have to test and go through a quarantine, that cost is a pretty cheap trip compared to having the disease,” he notes.
“If people will take it seriously and not worry about being quarantined to the point they quit testing, it will work itself out. If they’re even remotely suspicious, it’s worth the risk of being quarantined,” adds northeast Wyoming rancher Bill Lambert.
Davis feels the worst part is getting people excited about something like this.
“It takes a wreck before people wake up. I don’t like being told what to do, but quarantines have their place and if someone’s bull is causing me these thousands of dollars worth of damage, I feel I should have the right to test him,” he says.
Lambert adds that if all producers had taken the issue seriously 10 or 15 years ago, then the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) wouldn’t have to mandate things today.
“When you have producers who don’t take it seriously, the Board has to become involved. It won’t clean itself up,” says Lambert.
Trich was addressed during the June 2 WLSB meeting in Casper, where Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan told Board members that 6,600 bulls have been tested since Dec.1, 2009 and 15 infected bulls were found through those tests.
“These 15 bulls are from seven different herds in multiple counties. Of those infected animals at least two were found as a result of a Board order,” notes Logan.
One issue meeting attendees voiced was re-breeding cows found open after a breeding season. Open cows are a concern, but, according to Logan it’s currently easier and more economical to test bulls.
“Bulls are infected for life if they get it. Cows that are infected will spontaneously clean up 99.9 percent of the time between 100 and 220 days. So, depending on the situation, spring bred cows that have gone an entire winter without any bull exposure probably don’t pose a high risk. But if they’re fall-bred cows it’s a different story. To test females you take a blood sample from the reproductive tract and it goes through the same mechanisms as a bull test,” explained Logan.
“The state is becoming more aware of the scale of this problem and they need to do what they’re doing,” says Davis. “People in this part of the world who won’t test or ship their drys are how we ended up with this mess in the first place.”
Davis adds he’s never kept a dry cow over, or bought a non-virgin bull.
“If a cow doesn’t have a calf, you better know why and you better cull her,” he says.
Davis keeps his herd in two bunches and is working to phase out the suspect infected herd. He also vaccinated all of his cows and bulls last year.
“Maybe I should have sold them all in the first place and started over, but when they’ve tested clean that many times you want to believe it. We’ve tested so many times, and my vets and the UW guys have spent hundreds of hours trying to figure this out and just trying to keep up with it. Today we’re exactly where we were five years ago, without a clue to go on except one neighbor’s dirty bull in my pasture,” states Davis.