Pregnancy loss: It’s that time of year again when we see some premature calves. While there will always be some of this taking place in herds, it’s important to investigate everything. Often I hear farmers saying “she got a hurt” but really these cases should be investigated further. Cows should be isolated and foetuses sent to your nearest regional veterinary laboratory for a diagnosis. We had a case on Tullamore Farm two weeks ago and results came back inconclusive. It’s peace of mind if nothing else that nothing bigger is going on in the herd.

Neosporosis is one of the top three causes of late-term abortion in cows in Ireland, together with salmonellosis and leptospirosis. The neospora parasite has a strong connection to canines – dogs and foxes. Cows and heifers can abort at any stage of gestation, but most abortions occur after five months. Abortion is not generally associated with retained placenta or sickness. A characteristic of neospora infection, however, is the higher incidence of repeat abortions in cows exposed to the disease – a cow infected with neospora is nine times more likely to abort than a non-infected cow. Control of neospora-induced abortion in cattle depends on protecting feed and water from contamination by the faeces of dogs or foxes. Dogs should not be allowed to eat aborted foetuses or placentae.