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Diseases affecting cows reproductive parts

Dear Daktari

I keep dairy crosses in a mixed zero grazing and free-range system. I also use Artificial Insemination but this was until last year when a farmer friend advised me to try his bull. This ended in losses because after several repeats my vet diagnosed my treasured dairy cow with a reproductive disease that forced me to cull my cow. How can I prevent reproductive diseases in my stock? [Franklin Kinyua, Tharaka Nithi County]

Dear Kinyua, sorry for your experience. Yes, reproductive diseases are costly to manage and result in economic losses through calf deaths, delayed conception, and extra costs in repeated inseminations. Here are some common reproductive diseases: 


Brucellosis in cattle causes abortions, retained after birth, and infertility. Affected cows give birth to weak calves and take longer to conceive.

There are carriers or animals who will have the disease with mild clinical signs.

Such a cow will shed millions of bacteria through genital discharges which can contaminate the pastures and spread to other animals.

Transmission is mainly through ingestion but can also be spread through broken skin or the eyes of susceptible animals. Human beings are affected by drinking unpasteurised milk and other milk products from infected cows.


Leptospirosis is characterised by abortions, mastitis, and low conception rates. Infections occur when urine droplets from infected cows get in contact with eyes or mouth and nose mucus membranes.

It is spread to humans from animals through contact with urine or other body fluids. 

The bacteria enter the human body through broken skin or mucus membranes of the eyes, nose, and mouth. Drinking contaminated water can cause the disease.  

Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis and Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

These two are viral diseases characterised by abortions, eye and foot lesions. The diseases cause temporary infertility. 

How to prevent reproductive diseases

Strict Selection: When buying your foundation stock and especially if they are not heifers, work with your vet.

The vet can do tests to rule out any disease carriers and historical backgrounds can be checked.

Always source cattle from clean herds. Ensure the females were vaccinated as calves and have tested negative for reproductive diseases.

Isolation: Always isolate sick animals and newly acquired animals to control the spread of such diseases.

Isolate breeding stock for 30 to 60 days upon arrival at the farm and retest at the end of the isolation period.

Use of Artificial Insemination: The use of bulls for mating purposes especially where a bull is serving many females is a major route of introducing reproductive diseases to your farm.


All these diseases can be prevented through vaccinations. Walk this journey with your vet. [jothieno43@yahoo.com]

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