Going into September and fall calving, I was reminded about a few cows that had aborted their calves. This herd also vaccinates for most standard viruses and bacteria that cause abortion. This includes five-way Lepto, IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV, and seven-way Blackleg and pinkeye.
Granted Blackleg doesn’t cause abortion, but it is important to vaccinate your cows so the momma will pass the immunity on to her calf to temporarily protect the calf until we can get a dose of Blackleg in the calf. Also, pinkeye does not cause abortion, but if we can prevent one case of bad eyes it will pay for the vaccine.
Now this herd is also is highly-vaccinated for Brucellosis or bangs. Yes, Brucellosis will cause late-term abortion. The vaccine does a great job protecting the cows, and Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri are class-free states. This means that we can only have one case every two years and maintain this rating by the feds. To my knowledge, we have not hit a true positive case for quite some time, some 15-plus years.
This leaves another possible organism causing the abortion, which is Neospora caninum. This is a protozoon found in canine feces and/or excrement. It can be transmitted by any canine species, dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes and others. Generally, it does cause a late-term and/or mid-term abortion. We have no treatment that is legal for this disease except culling.
We can diagnose this Neospora caninum by either a blood test from the affected momma or off tissues from the aborted fetus.
It is hard to keep canine species from going through our pastures, but this will be the best way to prevent this disease. And yes, this is calling for the old-time coyote hunters to go to work.
When I was a kid on our family farm, we always had a gun behind the seat in the pickup, just for taking a shot at a coyote or other varmint. But we did not take kindly to coyote hunters cutting our fences while chasing a coyote. Fences where put up for a reason and need to be respected.
I also think shooting the coyote is more humane than baiting them in and killing them with poison; other animals can get into that including your domestic dogs and/or cattle dogs.
Things attracting these canines is the dead animals and abortions. Please, bury or burn them to help slow this disease process down.
Dr. Tim E. O’Neill, DVM, owns Country Veterinary Service in Farmington, Ark. To contact Tim go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’