Tag Archives: embryo

Pregnancy Check 2021

For decades, we’ve always had the veterinarian palpate our cows for chute-side determination of pregnancy. This year, i decided to try blood testing, so i contacted our veterinarian and asked him about the process. He said he’d never done that for an entire herd, but has used the process for individual animals.

There are some reasons for the change, primarily because i thought it would be less stressful for the cow and the vet and i think that is an important issue. If there is opportunity to reduce stress and physical labor, then the option should be explored – especially as we ranchers, farmers, veterinarians, and others are getting old. We break more easily, don’t move as fast, and get tired more quickly.

Pregnancy Tips from Beef Magazine

My cows and especially yearling heifers are smaller frame than many owners’ and the rectum is just not large enough to comfortably accommodate a big arm. Damage to fetus, rectum, and vet’s arm is more likely.

In just a few days, the results were ready and my vet’s office sent them to me via e-mail. The results: (i was very well pleased – especially since 3 of 4 bulls went bad at some point during the breeding season!) Overall, the pregnancy rate was 93% bred not counting 6 first calf heifers i bought (5 were open!). They did milk pretty heavy and are not adapted to managed grazing, so giving them a pass and will keep them another year.

  • Yearling heifers (born in 2020) – 73% bred
  • 2 year olds bred for the first time – 100% bred
  • 3 year-olds – 85% bred
  • 4 year-olds – 87% bred
  • 5 year-olds – 85% bred
  • 6 year-olds – 80% bred
  • 7 year-olds – 100% bred
  • 8 year-olds – 100% bred
  • 10 year-old – 100% bred
  • 20 year-old – 100% bred

After the work, receiving the bill and test information, followed by a chat with my veterinarian, i came away with the following points:

  • Blood testing is similar in accuracy as palpating
  • Blood testing is a bit more than twice as costly to implement
  • For the veterinarian, there is about the same work, but is far less physically demanding
  • Palpating allows chute side call and decision making based on pregnancy check – blood testing takes a few days
  • Palpating at 50-60 days can cause embryonic death due to a fragile time for the fetus. Blood testing would not cause this.
  • Blood testing is far less uncomfortable to smaller framed cows and young heifers.
  • Cows palpated around 4 months pregnant have a higher incident of being called ‘open.’
  • Blood testing takes about the same amount of time in the chute as palpating.

The actual out of pocket cost for blood testing was:

  • Veterinarian charge – $3/head
  • Blood testing – $4.50/head
  • Shipping/Processing – $ .60/head

By Comparison, only the $3/head would be charged for palpating. So, what will i do next year? i haven’t decided, but it could be a combination of blood testing the small/medium frame cows and the 2 and 3 year old heifers/cows, then palpating the remaining. This would greatly reduce cost but would require sorting the cows into two groups before pregnancy check. Is that extra labor worth the savings over just blood testing all?

Here are my new thoughts on processing my cows and calves going forward, but will discuss with my veterinarian to see if it is reasonable. My biggest concern is changing to dates in the winter – our winters can be unreasonable cold and miserable, but usually there are a few days which are nice.

  • 6 August – 20 September – Breeding season
  • 15 May – 30 June – calving season
  • Mid November-Vaccinate calves and preg check dry cows. Hold bull calves in pen to pair up, then wean them.
  • Mid March – Preg check 3 years and older cows i plan to keep (maybe?)- no need to preg check first calf heifers since i would hold them over if open anyway. WEAN CALVES.
  • Any cows which have developed a bad attitude or other reason for culling no need to preg check – they’ll need checking at sale barn.

The Verdict

Just finished pregnancy checking a few cows, including my recip (recipient) cows.  Remember that 10 cows were implanted with Aberdeen-Angus embryos on the 24th and 25th of September.  The verdict:  of the ten, six are bred!  That is 60%!  Which is so exciting.  It sounds like a low percentage, but consider that these embryos were collected and frozen in Scotland on 17 March 2015, then shipped frozen in August to Los Angeles, passed through customs, then on to GENEX in Billings, Montana continuing to Trans-Ova in Chillicothe, MO.  Then thawed and implanted.  That’s a LOT of room for error.

These cows are scheduled to calve about 25 June 2016.  A lot can happen between now and then and even at calving and during the calf’s growing years.  So the risk continues.

Suffice it to say, i may have the most colourful recip cows in the county!

Embryos come from Dunlouise Angus in Forfar, Scotland.  The Corriente and Longhorn were bought a few years ago from Bart Albertson and Jeremia Markway and the Dexter/Angus from a neighbour.

Cheers!

tauna

D121 x Jipsey Earl
This Longhorn cow is carrying a D121 (dam) and Jipsey Earl calf.

E170 x Jipsey Earl (2)
This Corriente cow is carrying an E170 (dam) and Jipsey Earl baby.

E170 x Jipsey Earl (3)
This Angus/Dexter cross cow is pregnant with an E170 and Jipsey Earl calf.

E170x Jipsey Earl
Corriente cow carrying an E170 (dam) and Jipsey Earl calf.

K377xRed Native
Corriente Cow pregnant with a K77 (dam) and Red Native calf.

E170 x Jipsey Earl
Longhorn cow carrying an E170 (dam) and Jipsey Earl calf.

260B x Ohlde Linebred
Corriente cow carrying a 260B (dam) and Ohlde OCC Linebred 661L (Angus) calf.