A pair of Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) rule changes will address new traceability requirements for livestock in Texas and will alter “Trich” testing rules for bulls beginning Jan. 1.

The rule on laboratory testing of bulls for a venereal disease, known as Trichomoniasis, will save Texas cattlemen thousands of dollars over the long term, and a change in the rule for permanent cattle identification establishes a requirement to enhance the effective traceability of beef cattle movements in Texas, which is the cornerstone of disease control activities says Dr. Dee Ellis, Texas’ State Veterinarian at TAHC.

Ellis says although the new Trich testing rule has not been officially passed, the Commission will put in abeyance its existing rules and allow the change to take effect immediately until it becomes official beginning Jan. 1. The Commission amended its traceability rules in June to enhance the effective traceability of beef cattle movements in Texas, but implementation of the change was delayed to ensure cattle producers understand the requirements and can prepare accordingly.

TAHC proposed several changes to the current Texas Bovine Trichomoniasis regulations at its September 18 meeting in Austin. The proposed amendments to Chapter 38 reflected suggestions by an industry working group of cattle producers, veterinarians, and other stakeholders. The group meets annually to consider such rule changes.

Under terms of the new rule, TAHC will now accept tests run on samples “pooled” at an official lab for both change of ownership and quarantine release. The veterinarian will still collect samples from individual bulls for submission to the laboratory, and the maximum acceptable pooled ratio will be 5:1. Upon receipt, the lab may combine up to five samples if requested prior to testing.

“Recent studies have confirmed that pooled sampling is acceptable to make the diagnosis while saving the producer considerable money,” Ellis reported following the meeting.

During the meeting, a second significant change was also proposed. Diagnostic samples will now be accepted at the laboratory if submitted up to 120 hours from collection, if specific guidelines are followed by the submitting veterinarian to ensure the integrity of the sample.