Preg-checking Dairy Cows

Ultrasound – We use ultrasound on the early pregnancies (30 days to 75 days pregnant) because it gives us more information about the calves.

  • First pregcheck is done starting at day 32
  • Second confirmation pregcheck is done starting at day 60
  • At these checks, we can see the heartbeat and healthy placenta. More importantly, we can see when these are missing and tell you that the cow is already aborting so you can get her back into the breeding program.
  • Fetal aging:
  • Let’s face it, sometimes a cow is pregnant to a previous AI breeding
  • We can measure the length of the calf (30-42 days) or the diameter of the head (42-120 days) to give you a more accurate picture of when the calf will be born.
  • Twins: We are always looking for twins on ultrasound. It is an advantage for the producer to know if a cow might need to be dried off a week earlier or need help during delivery.
  • Fetal sexing: Some producers want to know the sex of the calf. Typically, this is to check sexed semen or for a pure bred female that they want to sell/keep based on the sex of the calf. Commercially, a live bull calf is not as valuable as a live heifer calf, but we aren’t going to sell a good cow just because she has a bull. The real value is a pregnancy. There is a very narrow range that we can sex the calf. We have to ultrasound them between 55 and 90 days to be accurate.
  • Palpation – For pregnancies over 120 days, we use palpation. During this process, we are feeling for the calf’s head/feet, the cow’s uterine artery, and the overall size of the uterus to estimate how many months pregnant the cow is at that point.