Volume 3, Number 41 - January 8, 2004
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Boulder herd to be depopulated
Last week, federal animal health officials officially declared one herd of cattle near Boulder to be infected with brucellosis.
Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan said in an interview Monday that the federal designation was made on Dec. 30, so the 60-day time clock for testing neighboring herds has officially begun.
But because Logan had already taken action to get neighboring herds tested during the past month after he preliminarily determined Doc Jensen's herd to be infected in late November, most of the required testing has already been completed.
On Monday, the 31 head of reactor cattle in Jensen's herd were being transported to the state veterinary lab in Laramie. The cattle were to be autopsied at the vet lab and tissue samples would be sent on to a federal lab in Iowa for further testing, Logan said.
Logan added that animal health officials were spending Monday and Tuesday testing three more relatively small contact herds, totaling no more than 300-400 head.
"That will be the end of the first round of testing, as far as I'm concerned," Logan said. "We'll wait until after the other contact herds have calved for the second tests."
Brucellosis is more readily detected in reproducing animals around calving time, Logan explained; so as long as the cattle test clean at that point, "we should be okay as far as our status goes."
Federal animal health officials will leave Wyoming's class-free brucellosis status in place, so long as the one infected herd is depopulated, which means sent to slaughter, and as long as no other infected animals are discovered in any other Wyoming cattle herds. Testing of all neighboring herds has not revealed any further infection.
When asked whether the Jensens have consented to herd depopulation, Logan was hesitant to answer, but a spokeswoman for the USDA in Washington, D.C. confirmed, "The Wyoming brucellosis herd will be depopulated; "that the appraisal to determine fair market value for the cattle was currently being made; and "The owners will be compensated."
Logan said, "The details and logistics of a depopulation are still being discussed."
In other business, the Wyoming Livestock Board held an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Casper, where it was voted to impose brucellosis testing requirements on cattle being sold into breeding herds.
The testing requirment takes effect Feb. 10 and will last 120 days, at which time the board will consider making the rule permanent.
Logan is an advocate of the testing program, stating that it would reduce the risk of spreading brucellosis and should help Wyoming retain marketability with other states.
The testing of cows headed back to breeding herds was a recommendation of the federal review team that reviewed Wyoming's brucellosis situation about five years ago. When asked Monday whether he felt Wyoming had complied with that recommendation, Logan said: "No. Absolutely not. We haven't at all lived up to it in testing back-to-farm cattle, in any place in the state."
Logan said with the exception of a few cases, such as the voluntary program conducted by veterinarian Gordon Mickelson of Big Piney and another program undertaken by the Torrington auction barn, little testing has been conducted in breeding herds.
Criticism of Wyoming's lack of testing is "a legitimate criticism," Logan said.
Although the federal review team recommended such testing of breeding stock, the Wyoming Livestock Board implemented rules calling for voluntary testing instead.
Logan quipped, "Voluntary never tested a thing."
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