More miscarriages in cows – the reason is a parasite

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Of: Thilo Kortman

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Christoph Berbecker and Fabian Hager are concerned about the increasing number of abortions in cows. © Thilo Kortmann

The parasite Neospora caninum, which dogs shed as a definitive host, can become dangerous to cows through forage grass. If animals become infected with the parasite, it can lead to miscarriages or deformities in calves. Young animals can also transmit the disease to other animals.

“This is a disaster. The number of miscarriages in our cows has clearly increased compared to previous years,” explains farmer Kerstin Voswinckel. 140 cows graze on the Voswinckels’ green fields in Langenscheid. The fodder, the silage grass, comes, among other things, from the meadows at the Märkisches Werk.

The areas leased by the Voswinckels at Märkisches Werk or Neuen Herweg are badly affected by walking. The problem isn’t the run, it’s the dog waste. “The grass serves as feed for the cows. Contaminated with faeces, it can make animals sick,” he says. According to the farmer, you need to constantly point out that it is not just a piece of green for recreation and a residual space for pets.

Signs should point out to walkers that dog excrement has no place on pastures used for animal feed production.
Signs should point out to walkers that dog excrement has no place on pastures used for animal feed production. © Thilo Kortmann

Complaints from the farmer are mostly met with incomprehension by the dog owners. “The signs prohibiting dogs from doing their business in the meadows have already been destroyed. Now we don’t set them up anymore,” explains Kerstin Voswinckel. And the way families and children behave in the grasslands often causes damage in a different, material form.

An example: “If kids build iron gates in the pasture and the iron is around afterwards and we go through them with the mowers, then that’s not good for our mowers,” explains Voswinckel. You have already sought conversations with parents, but there is no insight.

This is a disaster. Abortions among our cows have clearly increased compared to previous years.

Finally, silage bales, which often sit in pastures for days when filled with grass clippings, are destroyed by being opened, he says. A picnic where broken glass is said to have been left in the pasture is also a major hazard. Broken pieces in feed – “Cows can suffer internal damage and bleed to death.” You have to explain to people again and again that the grasslands are not their property.

Calf a few months old.  Healthy births are not as common as they used to be.
Calf a few months old. Healthy births are not as common as they used to be. © Thilo Kortmann

Christoph Berbecker, president of the local agricultural association in Halver, believes there is still a lot to be explained to people with dogs about why dog ​​excrement can cause serious diseases in cows. The walker often thinks that if I let my dog ​​defecate in the meadow, then it is not so bad, the farmer also spreads cow dung or liquid manure on the field. “But this is something completely different. Cows are exclusively herbivores, so liquid manure is purely vegetable,” explains Berbecker.

There are plastic bags of cocoa. Many collect the droppings with it, but throw the bag with its contents into the pasture. This is absurd.

Cows would not eat meat like dogs. He wonders about the behavior of some dog owners. “There are plastic bags of cocoa. Many collect the droppings with it, but throw the bag with its contents into the pasture. This is absurd,” he says, shaking his head. This would be doubly harmful, not only for the cows, but also for the environment, he believes.

Dog owners let their animals do ‘big jobs’ in farmers’ pastures

250 cows give their milk every day on the Berbecker farm. Miscarriages occur in animals from time to time, Berbecker says. Of course, there could be other causes of cow miscarriages. Stress or genetic predisposition in the animals also played a role. Nevertheless, the breeder emphasizes that dog excrement has been proven to be one of the reasons for miscarriages in cows.

Young animals stay in these boxes for a short time.
Young animals stay in these boxes for a short time. © Thilo Kortmann

Fabian Hager, treasurer of the local agricultural union and a farmer with pastures in Hulvershorn near the stop, also complains about the lack of respect for his pastures. Hiking trails run right past his pastures. There are many dog ​​walkers around the farm with 150 cows. Hager compares dog poop on the lawn to going to a restaurant.

“If a waiter spits in your soup, do you still want to eat it?” asks the young farmer. And he himself from time to time has noticed that the bags with the “big business” were thrown into the meadow, “it is incomprehensible why it is thrown into the dirt.” And finally, such behavior also affects the end consumer when he drinks milk or eats meat.

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