Trich Pooling, Bison Tolerance, Sidney Market Sale


The Montana Board of Livestock met this Monday and Tuesday in Helena.  Coming out of that meeting, Northern Ag Network spoke to State Veterinarian Dr. Marty Zaluski and Montana Department of Livestock Executive Officer Christian Mackay.


Dr. Zaluski says that the Board discussed trichomoniasis testing and the possibility of combining trich samples to make the testing less expensive.  This, he says, is known as “trich pooling.”  The idea was presented and well received by the Board.  They are now moving forward with having that being an approved test.


Mackay explained that a new market brand inspection system is now being deployed in the market brand offices.  He says that this should streamline the process and make the inspectors more efficient.  Those inspectors, according to Mackay, will have the opportunity to spend more time in the pens and less time with paperwork.  While he says that not much will change for the seller, the buyer should see livestock released a lot more quickly.


The Board did get notice that a new entity is interested in purchasing the livestock market in Sidney.  It is currently the Yellowstone Livestock Company.  They have put their application in and, once that is finalized, they’ll be scheduling a publicized hearing for the sale of that market.  Public comments will be taken on the sale.


One of the more contentious items on this week’s agenda was an Interagency Bison Management Plan “scoping notice” for year-round tolerance of Yellowstone National Park bison in what the IBMP partners have identified as the “Western Management Area.”

Mackay outlined that this discussion by the Board was a result of a citizens working group recommendation for changes to the IBMP.  That group, he says, is made up of folks in the conservation community and several ranchers.  Their recommendation to evaluate expanded tolerance in that area was first discussed by the Board on Monday afternoon.  After a long discussion, the Board held the decision over until Tuesday.  Ultimately, Christian says that a majority of the Board decided that it was important for the Department of Livestock to be part of that scoping process and make sure that livestock interests would be looked out for. 

Mackay explained what all this scoping process will entail.

The geography of the area, he says, varies from open, hilly regions to good grass bottom lands to heavy timber.  While there are not any resident cattle herds, upwards of 400 cattle graze in that area on a mix of both private property and forest leased land.


In a little bit of a change of gears for the Board of Livestock, they discussed the idea of “garbage feeding” for swine.  Dr. Zaluski explained that they’ve had some requests from smaller swine producers to be able to feed cafeteria waste from schools or restaurants.  Differences between the state and federal laws had made this difficult and Dr. Zaluski says they’re looking to revise the state’s statute to make this more in line with the federal law.


During the meeting, there was a nomination for Montana’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to be a “shortage facility” where they’d like to recruit or retain veterinarians.  The reason for that, according to Dr. Zaluski, is that with student loan burdens and a high cost of living in Bozeman, they foresee a hard time with keeping a pathologist on staff.  Through the USDA’s Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, up to $25,000 will be paid each year towards qualified educational loans of eligible veterinarians who agree to serve in a shortage area.

For more information on the Montana Board of Livestock and future meetings, visit their website.


© Northern Ag Network 2012

Haylie Shipp



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