Selective breeding may tackle neospora

ALTHOUGH NEOSPORA is the most commonly diagnosed cause of abortion, a true identification can only be given once the dead calf has been sent to a lab for analysis, says Tiverton vet Andrew Biggs.

With no treatment available, control methods involve general hygiene precautions of removing after<00AD>birth as well as minimum contact with dogs. Although this contact has not been proven, Mr Biggs suggests there is a link.

But selective breeding in herds which have been accurately diagnosed could be a way to solve the problem, he reckons. “Blood testing in late pregnancy will identify the likely infected cows and can be detected through family bloodlines.”

As an infected cow might not necessarily abort, that cow can be bulled to a beef bull to ensure progeny is not kept for breeding, he says. But this may reduce the number of heifer replacements sought each year from the herd. “So producers must be prepared to take the consequences and possibly cull or change management practices accordingly.”