Beginning April 1, breeding bulls entering Texas from any other state must be either 24 months of age or younger and certified as a virgin, or be tested negative for cattle trichomoniasis (trich) within 30 days prior to entry. The entry requirements are part of a regulatory package adopted by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) Feb. 24 to address trich.

A venereal disease of cattle that causes infertility and abortions, and results in extended breeding seasons and diminished calf crops, which costs livestock producers valuable income, cattle trich isn’t a human-health issue. The second phase of the program, which will address in-state movement of Texas breeding bulls, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2010.

“The regulatory components of the Texas Cattle Trichomoniasis Program (TCTP) will focus only on breeding bulls, which, even when infected, continue to appear and act normally. Under the new regulations, trich also becomes a reportable disease in Texas, which will give us more info on where and how much infection already is in the state,” says Bob Hillman, Texas state vet and TAHC executive director. “There’s no effective treatment or vaccine for bulls, and as they age, the surface of their organs becomes more hospitable to the protozoa, perpetuating the infection.”

Although the primary impact of the disease is on cows, which can become infected during breeding and lose the fetus, the cowherd isn’t included in the regulations.

“The majority of infected cows will clear the infection, if they are given 120-150 days of sexual rest. A vaccine also can be administered to infected cows to help control the disease in the cow herd. Producers with infected herds should consult with their veterinarian to determine the most appropriate measures to employ to eliminate the disease from their herds,” Hillman says.

The regs specify that breeding bulls entering Texas after April 1 must be officially identified, and may come certified as virgins, provided they are 24 months of age or younger, and have not commingled with female cattle. A breeder’s certificate must accompany the virgin breeding bull, signed by the breeder, and the information also must be included on the certificate of veterinary inspection. Routine documents also are required, including the certificate of veterinary inspection, and other applicable tuberculosis or brucellosis entry requirements must be met, depending on the state of origin.

Non-virgin breeding bulls or bulls older than 24 months of age entering Texas after April 1 must be tested negative for trich within 30 days prior to entry. During the test period and prior to shipment, the bulls must have no contact with female cattle. Like virgin bulls, the non-virgin bulls must be officially identified with a breed registry tattoo or brand, a USDA metal ear tag, official RFID tag, official trich ear tag from the state of origin, or other official ID. The animal must be accompanied by a completed trich test document, certificate of veterinary inspection and other routine health documents.

The second phase of the TCTP will begin Jan. 1, 2010, and will require that Texas breeding bulls offered for sale, lease, exchange or otherwise changing possession for breeding within the state be certified as virgin bulls or be tested negative prior to selling or any other change of possession. No test or certification is required for bulls shipped or sold directly to slaughter.

“TAHC commissioners delayed the implementation of the intrastate, or in-state movement requirements, to Jan. 1, 2010, to provide time to certify veterinarians to perform all components of the trich program, and to ensure producers are familiar with the disease, its implication to herd health, and the requirements for testing or certifying the virgin status of Texas breeding bulls undergoing change of possession,” Hillman says.

When the program is implemented, Texas breeding bulls undergoing change of possession must be officially identified with a USDA ear tag, official radio-frequency ID tag, or breed registry tattoo or brand. The animals may be certified by the breeder to be virgins until the age of 24 months, as indicated by the presence of the animal’s two permanent central incisors in wear, or more simply, by the birth date recorded on the animals’ breed registry papers.

The bull’s virgin status can be extended to 30 months, provided the breeder and the herd’s accredited veterinarian certify on a breeder’s certificate that the bull facility is sufficient to prevent contact with female cattle.
-- Texas Animal Health Commission