Preg-Checking Beef Cows

Ultrasound – We use ultrasound on the early pregnancies (30 days to 120 days pregnant) because it gives us more information about the calves.

  1. 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 don’t feed her for another 7 months.

Fetal Aging:

  1. 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.
  2. This is the most accurate in the first 60 days of pregnancy. After this, the genetics will start to affect how big the calf grows and how big the skull is. Still, it will put you within a 10 day ball park of when the calf will be born.
  3. Producers that use fetal aging typically run a bull for 45-60 days, pull the bull and then pregcheck 30-40 days after the bull is pulled. They will use this information to group cows/heifers into specific groups based on when they will calve. This helps them to move groups through the calving area instead of bringing the whole herd up to the barn at once.
  4. A modified approach ford producers that can’t pregcheck out on pasture or can’t pull the bull is to pregcheck in the fall 4-6 months after the bull was put in. We don’t use the ultrasound to pregcheck the biggest calves, but we will use the ultrasound to indentify the late calvers.

Twins: We are always looking for twins on ultrasound. It is an advantage for the producer to know if a cow might need help during delivery. However, twins are best seen between 30 days and 75 days of gestation. If we are pregchecking cattle that are farther along than this, we probably aren’t going to be able to fit 2 calves on the screen at the same time.

Fetal Sexing: Some producers need to know the sex of the calf. Typically, this is for a pure bred female that they want to sell/keep based on the sex of the calf. Commercially, a live heifer is not as valuable as a live bull calf, but we aren’t going to sell a good cow just because she has a heifer. 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 – If a producers schedule or goals don’t involve ultra-sounding the pregnancies, we will use good old fashioned palpation to pregcheck the later pregnancies. 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.

If your ready to book anappointment or have any questions, give us a call.