A Steer, is a Bull, is a Cow: Cattle Production Gets Trichy


So I really wish I could embed this video, but ya’ll will have to take a gander on Today’s THV’s website. Can you point out the simple terminology mistake in this report that left me chuckling all afternoon? By the way, steers can’t breed cows.

cattle palpation reproduction STD Trichomoniasis
Understanding and managing reproductive diseases is an important part of being a successful cattle producer.

This month after the Arkansas State Vet issued an emergency regulation requiring testing for trichomoniasis in Arkansas bulls, I shared a link on Little Rock’s television stations Facebook pages. It took a week, but they’re catching the news. One station said thanks for the story link while the others said nothing. Two stations released an AP statement on their websites (KARK, KATV) while one actually did a story on the subject (KTHV). The other station has yet to post a word (KLRT). Now I realize this may not seem like much to many, but it’s a big thing for a few different reasons.

First, agriculture related stories is not something we hear on Little Rock newscasts very often. Unless of course it’s related to severe weather (heat, cold, drought, or flooding), Agriculture tends to take the back burner on news casts. Because I’m an AgNerd like that I keep a Google search update for ag-related terms in local news. Good luck getting any from these local stations. But they did at least report this cattle trich story. The station that made a story of it had a bit of confusion with the terminology, and even stuttered when mentioning that cattle production in Arkansas is a Billion dollar industry. But that’s actually a good thing. Sure made me pay attention to that part twice, as I am sure many consumers did as well. Agriculture is a HUGE part of Arkansas’ heritage and current economy, job market, and land use.

Second, it’s of great importance for us to spread the word about the spread of trichomoniasis in Arkansas cattle herds. I learned of the issue at a recent Livestock Marketing Association meeting and plans to act by the state Vet’s office. As described in the news reports, if an infected bull breeds cows, the cows can abort 40 days after mating, and carry the disease until cleared. However, the bull will carry the disease for life, requiring his removal from the production system. This early term abortion can reduce a cattleman’s 90% calf crop to 50% within one year. For someone who only gets one paycheck annually (selling calf crop), that’s a HUGE shot in the bank account. Many small producers in the state cannot suffer these losses. This underlines the importance for Arkansas cattle producers to test newly purchased bulls before introducing into the herd, and stopping trich in its tracks before it costs our industry thousands.

Bovine trichomoniasis is a venereal disease transmitted from an infected bull to a cow at the time of mating. The disease cause embryonic abortion, usually within the first trimester of gestation. The disease can easily decrease a calf crop by up to 40% within one year. A vaccine is available for treatment in cows, however, infected bulls should be removed from the breeding herd and immediately sent to slaughter. There is no impact on food safety as the disease is found in the reproduction systems of cattle and is not transmittable to humans.

Despite the good chuckle I got from the terminology confusion (and the chuckles from consumers at the thought of livestock with an STD), I did politely let the station know of the mistake so they could correct it and thank them sincerely for helping to spread the word to cattle producers across the state. This action shows the importance of Social Media, and my role as a rancher and agvocate in sharing ag-related news tips with local news stations. If we feed em a little, maybe we can bring Ag stories to the consumers one story at a time.

Have you ever shared an ag-related news tip with your local television producers?

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