Osceola County Cattle Farmers React To New TB Study

A new study has cattle farmers doing more to prevent their animals from getting bovine tuberculosis.

A study conducted by the MSU diagnostic clinic found that TB organisms can survive on salt blocks, commonly put out in cattle fields for cows to help with metabolism.

If an infected deer comes along and licks that salt block, farmers could have a huge problem.

9&10’s Taylor Jones spoke with cattle farmers Friday to see what precautions they are taking,

Farmers in Osceola County say luckily bovine TB is not a huge issue in the area.

But if their cattle were to become infected, they could lose their whole herd.

“We know the bacterium can be deposited on hay, on corn silage and anything in a feed box situation. We’re trying to look through all avenues to how this organism is transferred and spreading from the wild life to herds specifically,” says Jerry Lindquist, MSU Extension.

Salt blocks: Cows lick them to help with metabolism.

Now we’re learning they could spread TB.

“Its spread through nasal discharge so it comes from the lung and infects the lung and then if they cough or they just lick and they have a nasal discharge in an infected animal, and then a healthy animal comes along and licks that in, it gets into the lungs,” says Lindquist.

Which is a concern for farmers if infected deer were to lick salt blocks on their farm at night.

Now farmers like Butch Ruppert are taking precautions with their salt blocks.

“It’s called a bull feeder and it has a plastic cover on it. The cows can lift up really easily, but probably the deer can’t do that as well or are used to it,” says Ruppert.

Cattle farmer Thomas Bluhm uses loose salt for his cattle and makes sure to only put enough salt and food out so that there isn’t any left by night for deer to even find.

“To the people that have had the test and they had to depopulate their whole farm, that would be just mindboggling to me,” says Bluhm.

MSU Extension encourages farmers who use salt blocks to take precautions to prevent TB from spreading.

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