Zaluski marty
Head of Regulatory Affairs / GlobalVetLink

As the winter frost melts and ranchers catch up on sleep after bringing new calves into the world, nature welcomes spring. Breeding season is not far away, and bull sales are an opportunity for ranchers and livestock producers to upgrade their genetics. Getting the right traits into the herd allows future generations to compete in a global market. Behind the scenes, veterinarians prepare for their pivotal role of disease testing, conducting breeding soundness exams and issuing health certificates.

Before bulls move to their new homes, ensuring that they meet import regulations is critical to the well-being of both the animals and the agricultural community as a whole. Animal health regulatory compliance can be a challenging task, especially during sale season when movement of breeding livestock is at its peak and on a tight schedule.

Interstate movement regulations can vary greatly from state to state. This labyrinthian landscape puts a significant burden on veterinarians who often don’t know where animals are headed until after the sale is completed, leaving them under pressure to complete the bulk of compliance work on a tight timeline as out-of-state buyers are ready with their trailers. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of movement documents, as they not only certify the health status of each bull but also build trust among buyers, regulators and stakeholders. In this article, we will share some important tips to help you prepare for this agricultural tradition.

  • Pre-season preparations: Selection for desired genetic traits lays the foundation for success. Nutrition ensures that bulls have a desired body condition to tackle the rigors of breeding, and bull testing scores the growth rate and feed efficiency in a controlled setting. As the sale approaches, bulls are given breeding soundness exams to cull animals for lameness, inadequate scrotal circumference, non-motile sperm or for other reasons that may make them unlikely to successfully breed cows.
  • Trichomoniasis (trich) testing: Trichomoniasis, often called "trich," is a disease caused by a protozoa that hides in the crevices of bull sheaths and is spread between herdmates through breeding. Trich causes early embryonic death that allows cows to become pregnant, but the pregnancy terminates in the first month or two after conception. Cows that abort come back into heat and are a source of infection after being rebred by the bull. Trich is the great thief that can have a devastating impact on conception rate, calving window, weaning weights and can result in a high cull rate as well as significant veterinary costs.
    • States have created rigorous laws to prevent the introduction of trich into their states by imported cattle. Each state has its own set of regulations which may change without notice, which makes it a challenge for veterinarians. The age of the bull that is exempted from testing (virgin bulls) may be either 12, 18 or 24 months. Additionally, the type of test is sometimes stipulated; therefore a negative test may meet some states’ requirements but not others. Trich testing is often done on all bulls pre-sale so no additional testing needs to be done after the sale.
  • Getting to the finish line: Veterinarians receive critical information about the destination of animals after the sale has concluded. This timing challenges their ability to provide thorough health checks, certifications and necessary documentation. In these high-pressure situations, veterinarians need technology solutions that easily provide compliance requirements and reliable error checking even on nights and weekends, as the work doesn’t stop at 5 o'clock, and weekend sales are a frequent occurrence.
    • Having access to resources that can streamline communication, provide real-time updates and assist in compliance documentation reduces stress and staffing needs. Therefore, internet resources that remain available day and night, and extended support hours where veterinarians can talk to a knowledgeable human being are critical.
  • Using available tools and resources: Resources with the latest regulatory requirements for each state allow the veterinarian to focus on other priorities, such as the health and welfare of animals and getting home earlier on sale days. Some resources to consider:
      • How it helps: Find regulations for interstate movement of livestock for sale and shows for a variety of livestock species and small animals. 
      • Cost: The searchable database is free to use.
      • How it helps: Find current regulations and requirements for moving any animal species within, to or from a state. 
      • Cost: The searchable database is free to use.
    • Veterinary Services Process Streamlining (VSPS)
      • How it helps: Developed by the USDA, VSPS can be used to create Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for the movement of livestock species such as alpaca, bison, bovine, caprine, cervidae, equine, llama, ovine and porcine within the borders of the U.S. 
      • Cost: Issue CVIs for free.
    • GlobalVetLink (GVL)
      • How it helps: GVL offers an intuitive workflow and built-in movement requirements so veterinarians can easily issue health certificates. GVL offers one-on-one and extended hours for customer support. 
      • Cost: Free to sign up with transactional pricing for health certificates or discounted transactions with a subscription.

State inconsistencies can lead to confusion and errors, potentially putting the welfare of the animals and the reputation of veterinarians at risk. Empowering veterinarians with the tools they need to navigate the intricate world of animal health regulatory compliance will alleviate the burdens placed on veterinarians and also ensure the well-being of the animals.


Bull sale season is not just a celebration of cattle but a testament to the dedication of ranching families and veterinarians responsible for regulatory compliance. Your expertise is the cornerstone of this agricultural tradition, ensuring its integrity and success.