The Montana Board of Livestock discussed Official Calfhood Vaccination (OCV) for the state’s cattle breeding herd and recommendations from an interim legislative committee on the department’s Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) for brucellosis at its meeting in Bozeman earlier this week.
“There were a lot of important topics to discuss,” said Hobson rancher and board chair Jan French. “The topics of greatest interest, OCV and the DSA, are unavoidably linked, and that discussion was particularly informative.”
Earlier this year, the department hosted seven meetings around the state to gather input from livestock producers on various aspects of brucellosis vaccination. Dr. Marty Zaluski, state veterinarian, told the board that, based on the comments he has received, most producers believe the state’s breeding herd should be vaccinated for brucellosis.
“Seventy percent of the state’s cattle are already voluntarily vaccinated for brucellosis,” he said, “and I’m confident that by working with producers, we can improve the immunity of the state’s breeding animals and limit the number of unvaccinated cattle.”
After discussing the challenges of mandatory vaccination, the board directed Zaluski to develop an incentive-based plan focusing on adult breeding cattle rather than calves for its next meeting, July 26-27 in Helena. The proposal will include a timeline for phasing in such a plan and an educational component to “ensure that producers understand what it might mean for their operations.”
A separate, but related, issue focused on the Economic Affairs Interim Committee’s (EAIC) recommendations for the department’s DSA for brucellosis.
Developed by a DOL-convened work group that included producers, producer groups, veterinarians and more, the DSA requires certain testing and movement requirements for cattle in portions of counties closest to Yellowstone National Park (Beaverhead, Gallatin, Madison and Park counties), which is home to the nation’s last known reservoir of Brucella abortus (bovine brucellosis) in wildlife.
While some producers in the GYA have expressed concern about the DSA’s testing requirements, Zaluski said the presence of brucellosis in the Yellowstone area has the potential to adversely impact the marketability of cattle throughout the state.
“What I’m hearing is that if we don’t maintain its own testing protocol for exports, other states will likely implement testing requirements for importing Montana cattle ,” he said.
The end result, he added, could be “a plethora of different requirements for different states and restrictions that will be more onerous than needed.”
French said both the OCV and DSA discussions provide examples of how important producer feedback is to the board and department.
“We’ve put a lot of effort into involving producers and other stakeholders, and their input has been instrumental in helping develop plans with clear objectives and goals,” she said. “For example, producers told us they didn’t like mandatory vaccinations, and that input prompted us to look at other options, like the incentive-based plan.”
The EAIC will again address the DSA issue at its upcoming meeting in Helena, May 25-26.
The next regularly scheduled Board of Livestock meeting is July 26-27 in Helena
Posted by Kaci Switzer