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Preg checks, and milk tests?
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Posted 11/24/2021 11:52 (#9338633 - in reply to #9337113)
Subject: RE: Preg checks, and milk tests?

Madison Co. Virginia
The only preg checking I've done on my Jersey herd in the past 10 years has been palpation with my own arm. A few thoughts --

I'm not proficient at anything less than 60 days. I can make some good guesses down to 45 days, and on a few occasions, I've correctly identified a pregnancy down into the low 30's. Usually I don't bother below 60 days, though.

I breed 90% of my cows with AI, so for the vast majority, I have a solid breeding date to start with. Occasionally, I do find a pregnancy that wasn't recorded, so I try to check anyone before they're sold for beef. Most times when I'm preg checking someone who was bull bred, she's pretty far along by then.

When I'm preg checking a cow that was successfully and uneventfully AI'd earlier, I can be pretty certain that a displaced uterus is evidence of pregnancy. If I don't have any breeding info on the cow, I can't assume she's healthy. It's possible her uterus is still full of junk from the previous calving, and has been hanging low for months.

I never trust a displaced uterus, though. I want another sign of pregnancy, such as a palpable uterine artery(my favorite), multiple(more than the two ovaries) cotyledons, or feel the calf itself.

The times I've preg checked beef cows for my friends, I've been unpleasantly surprised by the amount of fat around the organs. This makes it quite a bit harder to preg check. I recommend that anyone who wants to learn, start on dairy cows if they have the chance. I'm sure it's easier to learn what you're doing that way.

I try not to call a cow open/too-early unless I can split the horns with my fingers, and find them to be the same size/feel as each other. If I can't positively locate the horns and cervix, I won't call her open or pregnant.

Any small-scale dairy farmer who's set up to do his own AI breeding should get proficient at doing such, and should be quite capable of doing his own palpating. Even if you use BioPryn for an early preg check, it's helpful to know how to palpate for other reasons as well. Confirming pregnancy at dryoff is the biggest reason to be skilled at palpating.

It's also useful to know how to identify a cow who has recently calved. There are times that a cow calves somewhere in the woods, but there's simply no evidence of the calf or of mess on her back end. If you can feel that characteristic "cantaloupe" feel on the uterus, you know she's calved and is involuting correctly. That's your cue to lock the cow up overnight, then follow her in the morning to see where she hid the calf.
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