There are many vital aspects to a successful herd health program, and our veterinarians are ready to help with any and all of them. Drs. Hayter and Hahn are our primary livestock veterinarians, and Dr. Zdouba is quickly becoming versed in food animal medicine and surgery.

Certain vaccinations and procedures are required by law to be performed by veterinarians. These include Brucellosis (Bang’s) vaccination for heifers, Tritrichomonas foetus (Trich) testing and breeding soundness exams (fertility testing) for bulls, and pregnancy diagnosis.

Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE)

Ensuring fertility and good health is the first step in working toward high pregnancy rates and early conception, which lead to profitable production. BSEs are best done in the spring, ideally once the snowstorms are done (shocking cold can have a detrimental effect on sperm), and involve multiple steps:

  • Body Condition Score
  • Evaluation of eyes, feet/legs, and soundness
  • Reproductive Exam:
    • Scrotal Circumference – the value that bulls need to meet is established by their age and breed. This trait has an effect on sperm quality and number of females a bull is able to service, in addition to the reproductive quality of his offspring.
    • Palpation of internal structures – the prostate, seminal vesicles, ampullae, and inguinal rings are all examined.
    • Evaluation of external structures – the sheath, prepuce, penis, scrotum, and epididymis are visually examined.
    • Semen evaluation – Once the bull has been examined and palpated, he will be stimulated to produce a semen sample. It is vital to assess the motility of sperm (too fast or slow can indicate a problem getting to the egg or appropriately fertilizing) and morphology (the shape can indicate problems fertilizing or with embryo development).
      • A bull can pass a BSE with ‘fair’ gross motility and 30% individual progressive motility
      • A special stain is used on the slide to assess morphology. A bull can pass with at least 75% normal sperm.

Tritrichomonas Foetus (Trich) Testing

Trich is a venereal disease in cattle that can cause production losses via early embryo loss in bred females and subfertility in bulls. Testing is required for bulls over 18 months of age being moving to public grazing land, bulls imported into Colorado, or for change of ownership within Colorado. The test is valid for 60 days prior to import or change of ownership.

Brucellosis (Bang’s) Vaccination

Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease that is contagious, infectious, and communicable among cattle, sheep, and goats. It causes loss through spontaneous abortion, birth of weak calves/kids/lambs, reduced milk output, and infertility. It can be transmitted through direct contact with blood, infected tissues (fetus, placenta, uterine secretions), or the consumption of raw milk or milk products.