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.