Abortion in cattle can be caused by many different factors. All beef cattle which abort have to be reported to the Animal Health Office, the cow should be isolated and a vet must visit the farm to take samples from the cow to check for Brucellosis. Thankfully, Brucellosis is now very uncommon but there are many other infectious causes of abortion. Particularly where more than one cow aborts within a short period of time, some testing is warranted – ideally the aborted calf and some of the placenta should be taken to the lab for analysis along with blood samples from the cow.
Bovine infertility again can be due to infectious agents such as Leptospirosis and BVD. However there may also be abnormalities with the reproductive tract or indeed problems with the bull. Poor body condition, mineral deficiencies and other health problems can also cause infertility. Any issues with abortion or infertility should be discussed with a vet to decide what action is appropriate. Semen testing of bulls is recommended in advance of the breeding season to avoid an unexpectedly high number of ‘empty’ cows!