Montana Administrative Register Notice 32-11-221 No. 23   12/08/2011    
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In the matter of the amendment of ARM 32.3.201, 32.3.212, 32.3.501, 32.3.502, 32.3.503, 32.3.505, 32.3.506, 32.3.507 and 32.3.508 pertaining to definitions, additional requirements for cattle, official trichomoniasis testing and certification requirements, reporting trichomoniasis, movement of animals from test positive herds and epizootic areas, epidemiological investigations and exposed herd notification, common grazing and grazing associations, and penalties
















            TO:  All Concerned Persons


            1.  On August 11, 2011, the Department of Livestock published MAR Notice No. 32-11-221 regarding the proposed amendment of the above-stated rules at page 1470 of the 2011 Montana Administrative Register, issue number 15.


            2.  The Department of Livestock has amended the following rules: 32.3.201, 32.3.502, 32.3.503, 32.3.506, 32.3.507, and 32.3.508 exactly as proposed.


            3.  The department has amended the following rules as proposed, but with the following changes from the original proposal, new matter underlined, deleted matter interlined:


            32.3.212  additional requirements for cattle  (1)  through (5) remain as proposed.

            (6)  All sexually intact female cattle over 12 months of age must be either:

            (i)  spayed within 30 days of arrival; or

            (ii)  verified as a virgin by owner/agent affidavit; or

            (iii)  verified by an accredited veterinarian to be greater than 120 days pregnant; or

            (iv)  verified to be not exposed to an intact bull within the last 120 days by owner/agent affidavit; or

            (v)  be destined directly to slaughter or to a feedlot and then to slaughter.

            (7)  remains as proposed but is renumbered (6).


            AUTH:            81-2-102, 81-2-103, 81-2-707, MCA

            IMP:                81-2-102, 81-2-703, MCA


            32.3.501  DEFINITIONS  In this subchapter:

(1)  through  (13) remain as proposed.

(14)  "Individual trichomoniasis identification" means a Montana official trichomoniasis tag  or other official individual identification as determined by the state veterinarian that must be placed in the ear at the time of the first test.  Other acceptable means of identification may be approved by the state veterinarian.

(15) through (29)(b) remain as proposed.

(c)  Teton County;

(d)  Cascade County;

(e)  Carbon County;

(f) remains as proposed but is renumbered (c).

(g) (d) Big Horn County;.

(h)  Treasure County;

(i)  Rosebud County;

(j)  Powder River County.

(30) through (32) remain as proposed.


AUTH:            81-2-102, 81-2-103, MCA

IMP:                81-2-102, MCA


32.3.505  MOVEMENT OF ANIMALS FROM TEST POSITIVE HERDS AND EPIZOOTIC AREAS  (1)  through (4) remain as proposed.

            (5)  All sexually intact female cattle over 12 months of age that are sold, loaned, leased, or otherwise acquired in or from epizootic areas; and all sexually intact female cattle over 12 months of age from trichomoniasis test positive herds must comply with ARM 32.3.212(6)(i) through (v).


            AUTH:            81-2-102, 81-2-103, MCA

            IMP:                81-2-102, 81-2-108, MCA


4.  The department has thoroughly considered the comments and testimony received.  A summary of the comments received and the department's responses are as follows:


Comment #1:  Does MDOL have information on the number of animals impacted by the trichomoniasis epizootic area?


Response #1:  Based upon the number of cattle inspected in the field, approximately 13,000 cows and 4,700 bulls will be impacted.  These numbers do not include animals that move through livestock markets.  Movement of livestock through Montana markets cannot be sorted by county of origin.  Movement data for the three livestock markets in closest proximity to the proposed epizootic area are included below. 











Great Falls
















2011 (YTD)

Great Falls













Comment #2:  Powder River should not be included in the trichomoniasis epizootic area.


Response #2:  MDOL agrees.  The proposal of the ten counties for the trichomoniasis epizootic area was based upon proximity of counties to known areas of exposure.  MDOL wanted to ensure that the border created by the epizootic area was effective in ensuring that trichomoniasis is not spread to areas where trich testing would no longer be required.  Historical knowledge of Powder River suggests that, despite proximity to a known area of exposure, the risk in this county is low enough to allow its exclusion.


Comment #3:  All bulls at market should be required to test, regardless of origin.


Response #3:  While MDOL recognizes that this approach would significantly contribute to identifying positive bulls, the financial and logistical requirements to test all bulls at market prevent this approach from being a reasonable option.  Running bulls through market facilities for testing reasons is dangerous for market and brands personnel; is hard on facilities; is time consuming; is expensive; and would result in shrink that cattle buyers would not find acceptable.


Comment #4:  In lieu of the open cow rule, all slaughter bulls should be required to test prior to sale.


Response #4:  Please see response to comment #3.


Comment #5:  Opposition to the creation of trich epizootic area.  Bull testing requirements should remain in place statewide.


Response #5:  After five years of testing data, and approximately 10,000 bulls tested annually statewide, Montana consistently has less than 1% of bulls test positive for trichomoniasis.  Certain parts of the state have been identified as having an increased risk of trichomoniasis exposure.  MDOL gets regular feedback from industry that continued testing in areas where there is no historical evidence of the disease is an unnecessary burden for producers.


Comment #6:  Support of the creation of the proposed trichomoniasis epizootic area based upon the information that has been obtained through five years of surveillance, recognizing that the proposed area includes both common areas of exposure and common counties with positive tests.


Response #6:  Please see response to Comment #5.  The intent of surveillance is to test animals at greatest risk of testing positive.


Comment #7:  We support testing only in epizootic areas and limiting those areas to historical data provided by DOL on their web site.  Further we request the area not include the ten counties as suggested in the proposed rules.  We do not believe the DOL has provided scientific information to verify the inclusion of the ten counties identified in the rules.


Response #7:  Please see the response to comments #2 and #5.  Based upon feedback received from industry, MDOL will limit the epizootic areas to a four-county area where the highest risk of exposure to trichomoniasis exists.  The four-county area will include Glacier, Pondera, Yellowstone, and Big Horn.


Comment #8:  Require an annual test on all test eligible bulls within the trichomoniasis epizootic area vs. only those bulls sold, loaned, leased, or otherwise acquired within or bulls inspected out of the trichomoniasis epizootic area.


Response #8:  An annual test requirement in epizootic areas would certainly assist MDOL in identifying positive animals and moving forward with further elimination of the disease in cattle.  The presence of Indian reservations in the epizootic areas makes implementation of such an approach difficult.  MDOL has no authority on Indian reservations.


Comment #9:  How will MDOL handle cases of trichomoniasis that may be diagnosed outside of the trichomoniasis epizootic area?  Will counties who clean up their problem be able to get out of the epizootic area?  How frequently will these areas be reassessed?


Response #9:  Trichomoniasis will continue to be a reportable disease for all of Montana.  Cases of trichomoniasis that may be diagnosed outside of the boundary of the proposed trichomoniasis epizootic area will be managed as positive herds identical to positive herds within the epizootic areas.  MDOL will continue to monitor all trichomoniasis testing throughout Montana and will continue to monitor the source of exposure based upon the results of positive herd investigations.  Counties who demonstrate that the risk of disease has been mitigated will be considered for removal from the epizootic area.  Likewise, if a trichomoniasis problem is detected in a new region of the state and an epidemiologic investigation suggests that a reservoir of trichomoniasis exists, the area may be categorized as epizootic for trichomoniasis.


Comment #10:  We periodically have had cattle come up positive for trich in Meagher and Wheatland counties.  Has this occurred in other counties as well?  I am concerned that if we do not continue to look for trich, we may miss it.  We have never determined the source for trich in Wheatland and/or Meagher County, but it seems to hit a herd every five to six years.


Response #10:  Please see the response to comment #9. MDOL regularly sees positive cases diagnosed that were tested for a reason other than required by current regulations.  As trichomoniasis is a disease of management, MDOL encourages all producers to consider adopting practices that will help in control of the disease, including testing of bulls if the suspicion of disease exists.


The following comments pertain to the open cow rule and are so designated with OC following the comment number.


Comment #11OC:  A seasonal open cow rule would allow MDOL to target the highest risk population of open cows.


Response #11OC:  MDOL agrees that open cows carry some risk of transmission of the disease to other herds.  Additionally, MDOL recognizes that cows come up open for a myriad of reasons.  This was the rationale for including open cow movement/sales and imports from epizootic areas and from out of state in the draft rule.  A seasonal rule would provide controls during the time the greatest numbers of cows are sold.  However, an open cow rule during this time would have the greatest economic and financial impact on producers selling open cows.


Comment #12OC:  The open cow rule will have a negative impact on the open cow market and industry created by such companies as TransOva who purchase open cows for qualification and use in their recipient program.


Response #12OC:  MDOL agrees that the open cow rule is likely to have an impact on operations that currently purchase and rebreed open cows.  TransOva and similar operations that send open cows out-of-state to be bred would not be impacted by the proposed rule.


Comment #13OC:  The open cow rule will have a negative impact on ranchers who purchase light bred cows.


Response #13OC:  MDOL agrees that the flexibility of ranchers that desire to purchase open cows for rebreeding would be reduced in that they could only purchase cows for such a program from counties that are not included in the epizootic area.  MDOL has received significant feedback in opposition to the open cow rule.  Based on this feedback, predicted difficulties in enforcement, and the fact that the proposed rule could be easily circumvented, MDOL has elected to drop this provision.


Comment #14OC:  The open cow rule should only apply to positive herds.


Response #14OC:  MDOL agrees that open cows from positive herds have the greatest risk of transmitting the disease to other herds.  For additional information, please see response to comment #11OC.


Comment #15OC:  Slaughter only sales of cows that are not more than 120 days pregnant, or held away from the bull for greater than 120 days or are virgin heifers.  These cows could be sold out of state if the state would accept them.  This is what South Dakota has done since 2006, but does not allow any cow to be sold back into SD unless she is greater than 90 days bred or is a virgin.


Response #15OC:  MDOL agrees that open cows carry an increased risk of trichomoniasis transmission compared to pregnant cattle.  However, for a number of reasons, MDOL has elected to not include regulations on open cows in the final rule, except for positive herds.  For additional information, please see response to comment #11OC.


Comment #16OC:  The open cow rule does not address what is the actual problem in Montana.  Until trichomoniasis is addressed on the Indian reservations in Montana, the implementation of an open cow rule will only punish producers who are not contributing to the problem.


Response #16OC: A significant number of Montana trich cases have a history consistent with exposure on tribal lands.  This is partly due to increased testing requirements in these areas.  By placing our surveillance emphasis on a four-county area, MDOL will be able to effectively work to ensure that the disease is not spread back into other areas of the state and will give MDOL a smaller, clearly defined area to focus our enforcement efforts.  Additionally, MDOL is continually working towards the development of a cooperative relationship with tribes to ensure that we are working together towards a common goal.


Comment #17OC:  Support of open cow rule for imports only.


Response #17OC:  Please see the response to comment #11OC.


Comment #18OC: Based upon the success of rebreeding of open cows purchased by such companies as TransOva and the successful rebreeding of many put-together herds, an open cow rule in Montana is not needed.


Response #18OC:  MDOL agrees that the prevalence of trichomoniasis in the Montana cattle herd is likely less than one percent.  Based on this low prevalence, and feedback received on the draft rule as explained in response to comment #11OC, MDOL has dropped the regulations on open cows except from positive herds.


Comment #19OC:  Much of the opposition to the open cow rule has come from cattle buyers who would potentially be financially impacted by an open cow rule, but as a small producer, I am in support of the open cow rule to protect my herd.  As a start-up producer, I could not survive the economic impact that trich would have on my herd.


Response #19OC:  MDOL agrees that individuals that frequently buy or sell open cows would face the greatest impact from regulations on selling open cows for breeding.  Further, MDOL agrees that open cows carry an increased risk of trichomoniasis transmission compared to pregnant cattle, and suggests that producers exercise caution prior to introducing open cows into their breeding herd; particularly if the health history of the source herd is suspect or unknown.  Producers will continue to manage their herds for a level of disease risk that is acceptable for their operation.


Comment #20OC:  The current trich program in Montana has allowed us to get a handle on the disease.  The next level of control of the disease requires that open cows be addressed.


Response #20OC:  MDOL has evaluated numerous conflicting comments on the proposed rule.  Montana producers have generally supported the trichomoniasis program as a control, rather than an eradication effort.  MDOL has strived to balance these various comments in the final rule.  Responses to comments #11OC and #17OC provide additional background to the decision to not include regulations on open cows except for positive herds in the final rule.


Comment #21OC:  The open cow rule should not be implemented in the trichomoniasis epizootic area if there are no controls implemented for cattle imported into Montana.  In particular, Texas origin cattle who we know are moving in large numbers secondary to the drought this year pose a particular risk.


Response #21OC:  MDOL agrees.  MDOL feels that open cows from epizootic areas pose a greater risk than imported open cows and therefore did not plan to implement open cow restrictions in epizootic areas without an import requirement.  Ultimately, MDOL decided to not include open cow restrictions in the final rule except for positive herds.  Please see responses #11OC and #17OC for a more complete explanation.


Comment #22OC:  The "open cow" rules on cattle coming from known positive herds seem logical.  But for how long would that herd be required to operate under "open cow" rules if the rancher were to eventually test clean?


Response #22OC:  The proposed changes to the ARM clearly define when a herd is no longer considered a trichomoniasis positive herd and thus no longer subject to open cow requirements.  Open cow requirements will be in place for positive herds until the herd has completed a post-breeding negative test on all test eligible bulls.


The following comments pertain to the mandatory use of the Montana Trich Tag and are so designated with MTT following the comment number:


Comment #23MTT:  Any form of federally approved ID should be adequate for use.  Trich tags are redundant when used in animals for export testing as they are not an allowable form of official identification for interstate movement.


Response #23MTT:  MDOL agrees.  Animals that are tested for export out of Montana and that will therefore require official individual identification should not be required to have a second form of identification placed in their ear.  Therefore, the final rule will allow for the use of individual official identification (a silver metal USDA clip or 840 series tag) at the discretion of the testing veterinarian.


Comment #24MTT:  Management of tag inventory difficult due to annual color change, especially for veterinarians who perform small numbers of trich tests.


Response #24MTT:  MDOL recognizes the additional burden of keeping another form of identification on hand.  To ease this burden for veterinarians, MDOL allows veterinarians to purchase tags in quantities as few as five and using a rotational schedule for the color of tags.  Tags that may not be used for the current year can be kept in inventory and used in five year cycles.  Also please see response to comment #23MTT.


Comment #25MTT:  Support for mandatory use of the Montana trich tag for those animals tested for reasons other than export.  The tag is a simple and valuable tool for identifying bulls and for determining test status of the animal.


Response #25MTT:  MDOL agrees that the Montana trich tag has value for not only the accurate identification of trich positive animals, but provides a rapid and safe means for identifying the test status and owner of bulls.  In fact, MDOL has confirmed one example where the wrong bull was sent to slaughter because of misidentification.  Nevertheless, the final rule will allow the use of official identification in lieu of the Montana trich test tag based on comments #23MTT and #24MTT.


The following comments pertain to allowable exemptions for cattle grazing in common and are so designated with OC following the comment number:


Comment #26CGC:  If a bull is issued an exemption for a specific grazing district and the bull changes districts, would the exemption move with the bull?


Response #26CGC:  No, the exemption is specific to the grazing district.


Comment #27CGC:  Grazing associations should not be subjected to restrictions on open cows in their associations to meet an annual test exemption if the rest of the state or the epizootic areas are not held to the same standard.


Response #27CGC:  A testing exemption is provided to grazing associations based on an initial negative test of all bulls, and herd management practices that minimize the risk of introduction of trichomoniasis that could potentially impact many owners.  The introduction of open cows is not consistent with this goal; however, MDOL may provide flexibility on a case-by-case basis.


Comment #28CGC:  "Co-mingled grazing herds may be exempt from annual testing provided that a signed, written health plan including best management practices for all of the individual herds grazing in common exists."  Who is going to decided what is considered best management practices?  Who decides what herds need to create this health plan?


Response #28CGC:  Best management practices and recommendations for the management of trichomoniasis are readily available in scientific literature and often include pregnancy checking, involvement of a veterinarian in herd health, not utilizing old bulls, and not retaining open cows into the next breeding season.  There is no requirement for the creation of a herd health plan for any herd grazing in common; however, herds grazing in common must be able to offer convincing argument that the risk of introduction of trichomoniasis is minimal.  For this reason, health plans when submitted for testing exemption, will need to be reviewed by a private veterinarian and approved by the Montana state veterinarian.






            /s/ Christian Mackay                                          /s/ George H. Harris

            Christian Mackay                                               George H. Harris

            Executive Officer                                                Rule Reviewer

            Department of Livestock


Certified to the Secretary of State November 28, 2011.


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