13 October 1995

Disease checks for hired bulls

SUCKLER or dairy producers who hire bulls do so at their own risk.

That is the caution of Genus vet Stuart Revell who warns that bulls are extremely efficient at introducing disease into a herd.

"Producers who believe they run a closed herd should double-check bought or hired bulls to ensure they have been screened for disease," he says.

Campylobacter is the most devasting of these diseases and causes infectious infertility in cattle.

Affected cows suffer early embryonic and return to service outside the normal 21-day return, writes Dr Basil Lowman of the Scottish Agricultural College, in the latest edition of Signets Beef and Sheep Notes. He warns that culling an infected bull and replacing him with a clean bull would not cure the problem, as the new bull becomes infected as soon as he serves a dirty cow.

Dr Lowman says the safe option is not to hire bulls but invest in providing facilities to control bulls when they are not with cows.