Cattle abortion study: Researchers seek input from industry stakeholders

Beef Central, 08/08/2023

CHARLES Sturt University researchers are seeking vital input from industry stakeholders to understand the perception and attitude towards abortion in cattle within Australasia to better align the needs of producers with those of veterinarians.

Fifth-year Bachelor of Veterinary Biology/Veterinary Science student in the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences in Wagga Wagga Taylor Drayton (pictured) is currently completing the study as part of her honours thesis. She is being co-supervised by Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Epidemiology Dr Jennifer Manyweathers and Associate Professor in the Theriogeneology and Production Animal Group Dr Allan Gunn.

Ms Drayton is interested in increasing the understanding of the views of farmers and veterinarians regarding knowledge, perception and attitude towards abortion in cattle within Australasia.

Her aim is to better align the needs, expectations and perceptions of producers with those of veterinarians. Ms Drayton said the outcomes of the study could have a positive effect on multiple facets of the industry.

“Dependent on the results we find from the survey, some potential benefits include increased understanding of the farmers’ perception of abortion investigation, for example, how much they are willing to pay, what level they view as a problem, their definition of abortion and what they want to achieve from an investigation,” she said.

“This would then have the potential to improve the communication between farmers and veterinarians, with the hope this improves the farmers’ and veterinarians’ perceptions and willingness to undertake abortion investigations.”

Ms Drayton said there is currently limited research on abortion investigation in Australasia, and although literature reports indicate a definition for abortion, there is a lack of knowledge about what producers view as abortion.

A study conducted in the United Kingdom showed a disconnect between producers and veterinarians, leading to veterinarians not being as proactive about having conversations with producers about abortion.

“This study will aim to see if a similar disconnect is occurring in Australia,” Ms Drayton said.

Producers and veterinarians are invited to take part in an anonymous online survey. Participants must be older than 18 years of age.

There is a separate survey for producers and veterinarians so researchers ask that participants ensure they complete the relevant survey to their chosen field.


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  1. David taylor, 13/08/2023

    I am in New zealand I have artificial insemination of animals for 43 years
    I can tell you a lot about abortion and embryonic loss in cows
    You need to talk with by email
    I can tell you a lot of experience

  2. mick alexander, 08/08/2023

    It seems the missing link in any beef research today is the one that is always missed and that is the link to animal and plant nutrition. Most vets understand physical animal function and can repair accidents and test if pregnant etc. However, this is a topic which few veterinarians have limited knowledge about and it is confusing as to why animal nutritionists are not the key researchers. Animal nutrition is a very specific topic in relation to beef cattle. Sound nutrition can protect cattle from disease, protect cattle from toxins in weeds and it can ensure animals continue to grow healthy and happy.
    When joining, it is important to have cows on a rising plane of nutrition and in a BCS of 3 so they fall pregnant and are not consuming a high urea percentage supplement so they don’t (abort) lose their pregnancy. As long as the cow/ heifer is well grown and does not have any physical barrier to breeding, then the key issue is what to feed and when. It is also important to be calving into a green season to reduce cow stress and maximise calf potential. Looking at why an animal may abort its calf is more about nutrition and I emplore you to contact beef nutritionists as a first point of reference. I can give you some contacts if you want to follow up with me.

    • Mick Sullivan & Rob Dixon, 11/08/2023

      Excess protein in the diet of dairy cows grazing very high-protein high quality temperate pastures (e.g. 20% or more protein in ryegrass-clover pastures) has been found in some studies to cause lower conception rates. Dairy cows are also normally fed large amounts of concentrates further increasing protein intake. The fertility problem is associated with high blood ammonia caused by very high intakes of very soluble protein. There is no evidence of this problem occurring with beef breeders grazing native or introduced tropical pastures in northern Australia.

      Native or introduced pastures in northern Australia are relatively low in protein even during the wet season. Urea supplements are not needed or recommended during this season. During the dry season when urea supplements are fed the pastures usually have a protein content of 4%-6%. The additional amounts of urea nitrogen (protein equivalent) supplied by dry season supplements are much lower than the amount of protein from high protein temperate pastures.

      We agree with the comments above about the importance of mating breeders in good body condition. Dry season urea supplements are one management tool to reduce breeder weight loss during the dry season and set the breeder up for mating during the following wet season. Extensive research (especially by Qld DAF) has shown that the weight responses of breeders to feeding dry season urea supplements range from zero to 40 kg heavier at the end of the dry season. The range is due to factors such as the pastures, season and stocking rate. High urea dry season supplements have long played a valuable and cost-effective role in maintaining breeder condition and increasing calving rates.

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