Vet’s Voice: Pregnancy testing | TSLN.com

Vet’s Voice: Pregnancy testing

Dave Barz, DVM

Fall has definitely arrived! Those high winds and cooler temperatures the last week of October really helped us remember winter. The weather has returned to above normal temperatures and no precipitation. This has allowed us to nearly complete the harvest and has really saved our winter cow feed. Last week I pregnancy-tested several herds. It really brought home the importance of preg-check day in the management of your cow herd.

For many producers, preg-testing is a day when you push your cows through the chute as fast as you can to determine pregnancy status. If you do your homework before testing, you can accomplish many sorting and management decisions without sacrificing much speed. Unless you are working from a corral in the center of a pasture, most working areas have gates and pens available for sorting.

Spend several days making a hot list of cows that need special attention. Check your calf book closely and list cows which had large udders at calving. These require more time and attention at calving and should be carefully scrutinized while in the chute. Examine your calf weaning weights and study the bottom ten percent. Even if this cow had a good calf several years ago, she is probably not pulling her weight in the herd now. It is also a good time to remember a cow’s disposition. She may be OK with the herd, but at calving or when she’s alone, she may be psychotic. It’s best to cull her before she hurts herself or someone else.

You probably have some records from summer grazing. Every year, cows are injured during breeding and become permanently lame. Also re-examine any animal which had foot rot or pinkeye while grazing. These may need to be retreated or culled if the problem appears to be chronic. While the cow is in the alley or coming into the chute, check closely for lumps and treat or remove them as needed. Also remove any stitches which may be left over from prolapses and C-sections last spring.

While the cow is in the chute being pregnancy tested, many other procedures can be accomplished:

• Identification: Make sure the cow has an ear tag or freezebrand exclusive to the animal. Most systems denote cow age. We routinely log all IDs in our scale heads.

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• Stage the pregnancy: Determine the months pregnant. This allows you to keep some questionable cows if they calve early in the season. These calves may be used as grafts on cows loosing their calves. Late cows may also be culled.

• Vaccinate cows: New scour vaccines allow you to vaccinate five- to six-months before calving and still get good colostral immunity.

• Remove parasites: Most clients routinely pour cows for lice. We are getting more lice- resistance and you may need a second pouring for good control. We prefer injectables and orals for deworming. Most of our producers feel their cows winter better on less feed when dewormed.

• Body condition score (BCS): We weigh most cows as we pregnancy-check to give you a better idea of the amount of feed needed to maintain your cows. Many producers sort young cows (first- and second-calvers) to provide better nutrition. Thin cows (BCS less than 5) may be sorted and fed with young cows to improve their BCS before calving.

Pregnancy checking is the best time to evaluate your cow herd. Not only does it give you an idea of the success of your breeding season, but it allows you to make important sorting and management decisions. Good records and thorough planning will allow you to make meaningful decisions enabling your herd to be more profitable in the future.

Fall has definitely arrived! Those high winds and cooler temperatures the last week of October really helped us remember winter. The weather has returned to above normal temperatures and no precipitation. This has allowed us to nearly complete the harvest and has really saved our winter cow feed. Last week I pregnancy-tested several herds. It really brought home the importance of preg-check day in the management of your cow herd.

For many producers, preg-testing is a day when you push your cows through the chute as fast as you can to determine pregnancy status. If you do your homework before testing, you can accomplish many sorting and management decisions without sacrificing much speed. Unless you are working from a corral in the center of a pasture, most working areas have gates and pens available for sorting.

Spend several days making a hot list of cows that need special attention. Check your calf book closely and list cows which had large udders at calving. These require more time and attention at calving and should be carefully scrutinized while in the chute. Examine your calf weaning weights and study the bottom ten percent. Even if this cow had a good calf several years ago, she is probably not pulling her weight in the herd now. It is also a good time to remember a cow’s disposition. She may be OK with the herd, but at calving or when she’s alone, she may be psychotic. It’s best to cull her before she hurts herself or someone else.

You probably have some records from summer grazing. Every year, cows are injured during breeding and become permanently lame. Also re-examine any animal which had foot rot or pinkeye while grazing. These may need to be retreated or culled if the problem appears to be chronic. While the cow is in the alley or coming into the chute, check closely for lumps and treat or remove them as needed. Also remove any stitches which may be left over from prolapses and C-sections last spring.

While the cow is in the chute being pregnancy tested, many other procedures can be accomplished:

• Identification: Make sure the cow has an ear tag or freezebrand exclusive to the animal. Most systems denote cow age. We routinely log all IDs in our scale heads.

• Stage the pregnancy: Determine the months pregnant. This allows you to keep some questionable cows if they calve early in the season. These calves may be used as grafts on cows loosing their calves. Late cows may also be culled.

• Vaccinate cows: New scour vaccines allow you to vaccinate five- to six-months before calving and still get good colostral immunity.

• Remove parasites: Most clients routinely pour cows for lice. We are getting more lice- resistance and you may need a second pouring for good control. We prefer injectables and orals for deworming. Most of our producers feel their cows winter better on less feed when dewormed.

• Body condition score (BCS): We weigh most cows as we pregnancy-check to give you a better idea of the amount of feed needed to maintain your cows. Many producers sort young cows (first- and second-calvers) to provide better nutrition. Thin cows (BCS less than 5) may be sorted and fed with young cows to improve their BCS before calving.

Pregnancy checking is the best time to evaluate your cow herd. Not only does it give you an idea of the success of your breeding season, but it allows you to make important sorting and management decisions. Good records and thorough planning will allow you to make meaningful decisions enabling your herd to be more profitable in the future.

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