Another look at the importance of recordkeeping
Many articles have been written about the importance of keeping production and financial records in a beef cattle operation. I usually encourage recordkeeping to help increase production efficiency, but records have other uses also. In case you have not heard, Arkansas has had an increase in prevalence of trichomoniasis in beef cattle. Trichomoniasis, commonly referred to as “trich,” is a venereal disease of cattle caused by a protozoa organism, Tritrichomonas foetus.
This small, motile organism is found only in the reproductive tract of infected bulls and cows. Infected cattle can lead to major economic losses due to infertility, low pregnancy rates, an extended calving season, diminished calf crops, and occasional abortions in pregnant cows and heifers. Trich can also be very costly to eradicate from a herd.
The recent attention that has been placed on this dis ease has many producers wondering about the possibility of their herd being affected. The most definitive way to determine if this disease affects you is to have your bull tested, and it is highly recommended if your herd exhibits signs of the disease.
An infected bull has virtually no outward signs of infection, but any drastic decrease in cow pregnancy rates should be a red flag for this disease. This is where records and regular pregnancy testing are important.
A low pregnancy rate does not automatically indicate trich, but does indicate there is a nutritional or disease issue that needs to be investigated. Producers who have a year-round calving season may have a difficult time noticing the effects of trich. Even if you have a controlled calving season, without records, it is difficult to see the effects of this disease. Without records, the only way you may see the effects of this disease is when you are working on your income taxes and happen to notice that you sold half as many calves as you typically do, and at this point, it has already been a very costly oversight.
Records can be a very good management tool, helping you make educated management decisions that will increase the efficiency and productivity of your herd. Equally important, records can be a great diagnostic tool to help you identify potential problems in your herd. Recordkeeping does not have to be complicated or a time consuming process. To start keeping records, all it takes is a pen, some paper and discipline to get into the routine. For more information on trichomoniasis or recordkeeping, please contact your local county Extension office. — Brett Barham, Associate Professor, University of Arkansas