We had some rather devastating news back in January. One of our cows aborted at the end of November, the foetus was sent off for testing and came back positive for Neospora. This is a disease caused by a protozoal parasite called Neospora caninum, causing a high percentage of abortion and stillbirth in cattle. There is no risk of transmission to humans and no problem with the food chain. However, there is no treatment for it. It passes down the maternal line through the placenta to the calf in 90% of cases (if the calf is not aborted), which means you should not breed from any infected animal. Therefore, we tested all our cows and heifers and found that, of the 12, half tested positive. The worry was how did they get it in the first place? According to all the literature the most usual way to get it is via dog faeces, the dog having acquired it by eating the placenta of an infected cow. We had fairly recently brought home Cwtch (our young sheepdog) who came from a very busy dairy herd……….we then had both dogs tested and to our relief they were negative. This means the cows must have had the disease when we bought them. Below is a diagram explaining how the parasite is transmitted.
We then had to decide what to do. After some hard thinking we came to the conclusion that the only way to move forward and to continue growing our very small herd, was to have the affected cows slaughtered, not an easy decision. By continuing to breed from them we will only perpetuate the disease resulting in persistently infected herds. The parasite needs to be eliminated from cattle herds in general. One more of the cows aborted earlier this month, reinforcing our decision. Any infected calves will be kept as normal for fattening only until they are around 2 years old. Very very sad, but all we can do is make sure they all have the very best life possible.