A parasite found in dog faeces has been attributed to several cows aborting their calves

04/01/2022

Last summer, Commoner Tom Gould turned 38 cattle out to graze on the New Forest. The majority of those at the time were in calf. By the Autumn, when the cattle were taken back to the farm, 19 of those calves had been aborted.

The cattle that had aborted were all carrying Neospora, a bovine parasite that can be found in dog excrement. This parasite can survive in the soil for weeks if dog poo is not picked up immediately.

The cattle that were grazing at Longslade and Wilverley became infected after ingesting contaminated soil and grass as a result of dog faeces left on the ground.

Tom was breeding to sustain bloodlines in his herd, as well as providing a sustainable approach to farming, something that he now claims presents a great challenge to him.

Mr Gould said:

“There is a shortage of replacement animals, you cannot just buy more cattle and turn them out, they have to be born and raised here. I am aiming towards carbon negative farming, something those cattle were helping me towards”

The presence of the parasite means that cows are much more likely to abort their calf and any future pregnancies.

David Coombes from Cedar Farm Practice (the veterinaries that deal with Mr Gould’s cattle) said:

“Statistically Neospora carriers are eight times more likely to abort, however in my experience this is a very conservative figure and it is usually much higher. In addition, if a Neospora carrier does make it through to calving, that calf will almost certainly be a carrier in turn. If it destined to be a breeding heifer, then it is a real problem! You can see how easy it is to keep breeding Neospora along family lines within a herd.”

New Forest Commoners work tirelessly to make the area a better place for all, however incidents like this are entirely avoidable and not only provide financial complications but also make their job harder.

It is important to note that the Neospora parasite seemingly has no effect on dogs, so you may be unaware your dog is a carrier.

We cannot enjoy the forest as we do without the work of the commoners so we would like to remind everyone to please follow the New Forest Code, pick up after your dogs and take the bags home!

 

 

Contact details: comms@realnewforest.org

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