Ivan Leyva-Baca, DVM, PhD - Animal Health Product Applications at Thermo Fisher Scientific

Ivan Leyva-Baca, DVM, PhD

Animal Health Product Applications at Thermo Fisher Scientific

How did a Mexican beef producer increase his herd’s calving rate by 23%?

One beef producer in the state of Chihuahua knew he had an issue that was negatively affecting herd reproductive rates but knew he was using proper nutrition, breeding strategies and genetics. His 7,000-acre ranch holds 2,500 cows along with a battery of 150 bulls. Their calving rate was 57% at best, and they were not able to push it higher. Bulls coming onto the ranch were not tested for Tritrichomonas foetus (Trich).

The first sampling found 54 positives, showing 36% of bulls were infected with Trich. From the second sampling, six additional positive bulls were identified, bringing the herd prevalence rate to 40% which also reflects the calving rate.

The Thermo Fisher team recommended he let open cows rest for multiple estrus cycles, so they could clear out the disease. The producer immediately implemented artificial insemination (AI) to avoid infecting new bulls from the infected cow herd. After several months, the producer allowed the clean bulls to also naturally breed cows to boost his calving rate. Within 24 months, he was able to bump his calving rate up to 80%, an increase of 23%. Considering the cost of the diagnostic testing and the increase in calving rate, his return on investment was 45:1 creating a significant increase in profitability.

What were the conclusions from this study?

  • Tritrichomonas foetus is prevalent in the state of Chihuahua, and it’s highly likely that it is present in other regions of Mexico
  • Educating veterinarians, animal scientists and lab technicians about Tritrichomonas foetus is important to implementing a successful management program
    • Pre-analytical - steps to properly collect a sample, preserve it, send it to the laboratory
    • Proper analysis with highly sensitive real-time PCR that is validated and USDA licenses
    • Post-analytical - importance of establishing proper thresholds to call out positive and negative animals
  • Implementing proper diagnostics practices and management of the infected herd can significantly increase the calf crop over time
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