Saturday, 3 September 2011

Is She Pregnant?

It's been a while since I've blogged, life's been busy and the days are very quickly disappearing until I have to go back to school and this thought does not excite me all that much. A few weeks ago now we performed one of my favorite jobs to do on the ranch which included preg testing our cows and heifers! We spent the better part of four days checking if our 612 females are going to have a baby next year, with 450 being cows and 162 heifers.

It was a busy few days but a few years ago we would preg test all our females in one day when the vet did it. Now, that day was long, it would start at about six in the morning and end late that night. When our vet however retired from preg testing cows, my dad and neighbor teamed together and bought an ultrasound machine to preg test with. So, we have been using it for the past few years, so we are in no rush to finish preg testing in a day, with the machine it also takes a few less people. When the vet came we would have a couple people on quads going to get the next group of cows because we didn't have time to lose waiting for cows whereas now it's not such a big deal to have them their right away.

Screen, big circle on bottom left is 91 days, small is 63
and circle on right is 77 days pregnant.
The machine is a simple probe with a camera on the end that will show a picture of the fetus. With the settings on the screen you can see how long the cow has been pregnant for my measuring the fetus and comparing it to the circle on the screen. Some people preg test to simply find out if the cow is pregnant or not, we however want to find out about what time she is going to calf, so we measure the baby. The time taken varies for each cow, some are done in a second, others take a while longer. It's easy to see if a cow is pregnant but it's the open ones (open meaning not pregnant) that can be hard to decipher.

With my dad preg testing, we usually had our hired hand on the head gate catching the cows in when they came in, my brother was in the back keeping the chute full of cows, continually chasing them in and I had the wonderful job of paperwork. This includes writing down the weight of the cow and the number of days pregnant. I also had to make sure I payed attention because on some of the cows we had AI dates, or some also had seen bred dates, if they had any of these I had to make sure that I told dad the date because a lot of the time that was the date that the cow got pregnant and instead of having to come up with a number of days, I could just highlight that date if it was the one.

Paper looks like this, with cows number followed by the AI date/Sire, Exposure date/Sire/Seen Bred When,
Second Exposure Date, days pregnant and weight.
It is quite a process, but a fairly enjoyable one and the equipment has worked real well for us over the years, it's nice cause we have the leisure to preg test whenever we want and I think it's more comfortable on the cows too, when a vet preg tests the cows will walk around with their tales up for a bit whereas with the probe they hardly notice and just walk out of the chute like nothing ever happened. Definitely one of my favorite times of the year and I just can't wait until winter when all those little babies are born into this world!

If you have any questions about preg testing or anything please don't hesitate to ask!