Cattle producers warned to look out for reproductive losses

The North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian team have advised North Coast cattle producers of a rise in reproductive losses. 

There have been a number of commercial beef properties in the region experiencing reproductive losses recently that can be directly attributed to outbreaks of highly infectious yet preventable diseases.

Dr Elizabeth Bolin, District Veterinarian, said “There are three diseases identified as causing major losses to production at the moment include Pestivirus, Vibriosis and Neosporosis and we are advising cattle producers to be aware of the symptoms and options available for treatment and control.”

Cow with stillborn calf due to infection with Pestivirus.

Cow with stillborn calf due to infection with Pestivirus.

Pestivirus (Bovine viral diarrhoea virus) causes a variety of syndromes, ranging from early embryonic loss to abortions, to the birth of weak or deformed calves. Sometimes infection leads to the birth of persistently infected calves. These persistently infected animals or “PI’s” as they are sometimes referred to, shed large amounts of the virus, and, unless identified and removed, contribute to the disease circulating within and between herds.

Pestivirus can be controlled using vaccination, test-and-cull protocols to identify and remove PI animals and improved biosecurity practices.

Vibriosis (Campylobacteriosis) is a bacterial disease of cattle that can be spread in herds where natural matings occur. Generally non immune cows become infected after being mated by an infected bull.

Herds affected by this disease can experience a range of outcomes including, increased returns to service, low pregnancy testing percentages and occasionally abortions.  There is currently an effective Vibrio Vaccine available in Australia and this can be very useful in the management of this disease.

Practices that can increase the chances of this disease affecting the reproductive performance of a herd include; failure to vaccinate bulls prior to service, hiring or sharing of bulls between properties, long breeding seasons and poor fence integrity allowing the access of straying cattle.

Pestivirus PI (Persistently Infected) Calf.

Pestivirus PI (Persistently Infected) Calf.

Neosporosis (or “Wild Dog Abortion”), is a protozoal cause of abortion, stillbirth and the birth of weak, or, abnormal calves.

Cattle can become infected by either ingesting the infective stage of the organism (oocyst) in canine faeces or, through an infected cow passing the infection on to her calf in utero.

Strategies to minimise the spread of Neospora include wild dog and fox control on your property, ensuring that domestic dogs don’t have access to afterbirth or aborted foetuses and regular pregnancy testing to ensure that problems are detected early.

For more information regarding any of these diseases please contact your private veterinarian or the North Coast Local Land Services District Veterinarian team.

For more information on wild dog control on your property please contact the North Coast Local Land Services Biosecurity team.