Beef Cattle Infertility
Beef cattle infertility is a very serious problem in beef cattle industry.
Infertility and abortion lead to heavy losses in cattle production. There are many causes that may lead to
infertility in animals and many a times it may be difficult to identify the underlying reasons for the same.
Abortion may happen to due to some infections and cattle having abortions must be separated from the rest of the
herd to prevent the spread of infections.
Bovine brucellosis or Bang’s disease is one of
the leading causes of beef cattle infertility. It affects the udder, uterus, lymph nodes, testicles and accessory
sex glands. The bacterium Brucella abortus causes this disease. Symptoms in cows include abortion, reduced weight
gain and reduced milk production. Epididymitis in bulls indicates bang’s disease. Healthy animals coming in contact
with infectious animals can easily catch the disease causing bacteria, especially from aborted fetuses, placental
membranes, placental fluids and the vaginal discharges. The fluids and discharges remain infected with bacteria for
many days, even after the abortion. Also potential dangers are the milk and colostrums from infected animals. Even
humans consuming them are at risk. Once infected the cows may have reduced fertility and may not give birth to
healthy calves even later in their life.
Leptospirosis is another disease that may lead to beef cattle infertility and
abortions. In addition to cattle, it can also affect humans, horses, pigs, sheep, goats and dogs. Fever, icterus
(jaundice), hemoglobinuria (bloody urine), abortion and even death can result due to leptospirosis. Leptospira
Pomona, L. hardjo, L. icterohaemorrhagia, and L. grippotyphosa are prime causes of this disease. Cows have reduced
milk production and abortions may occur in the last 3 months of pregnancy.
Campylobacteriosis or vibriosis can also lead to beef cattle infertility. Organism
Campylobacter fetus causes this disease. It leads to the death of embryo, in initial weeks of pregnancy. Infected
cows may have to be treated for several weeks before they can conceive. This disease spreads more commonly through
bulls, which can infect other bulls and other cows by their semen. Vaccination is very important to protect the
herd from this disease.
The protozoan, Trichomonas fetus causes Trichomoniasis in beef cattle. It affects the
reproductive functionality of cattle, both cows and bull, and causes infertility. It can cause abortion early in
pregnancy. Since the treatment of this disease is very costly, it is recommended to slaughter the cattle so that
the disease does not spread.
Viral diseases like Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR, rednose) and bovine viral
diarrhea (BVD) also cause beef cattle infertility and abortions. Foothill abortion (EBA) and Listeriosis can also
be the possible reasons of abortions. It is very important to protect the herd from these diseases. Otherwise they
can spread among animals and lead to loss of both cattle and money. Vaccination is one of the best possible ways of
protection. Other steps include buying only virgin bulls and heifers.