Maintaining a successful reproductive program on today’s dairies is an arduous task. While it is rewarding to hear a pronouncement of pregnancy, there is not much the manager can do with that diagnosis. Except wait. Wait to recheck later to make sure the calf is growing. Wait for a calf to be born. So while it is tempting to focus on a positive pregnancy diagnosis, it is important to remember that an early non-pregnancy diagnosis is valuable information to act upon.
The sooner non-pregnant cows can be identified, the sooner they can be re-inseminated. Coupling a non-pregnancy diagnosis with a management decision to quickly reinitiate AI service improves reproductive efficiency and pregnancy rate. Repeat breeders who fail to become or stay pregnant also offer management the option to make a culling decision.
There are direct and indirect methods used to determine pregnancy status. Direct methods involve the direct detection of the tissues and/or associated fluids of the conceptus either manually by transrectal palpation or visualized by transrectal ultrasound. Indirect methods measure reproductive hormones at specific stages after AI or the detection of conceptus specific substances in maternal body fluids.
In Determining Bovine Pregnancy Status, UW-Extension Taylor County Agriculture Agent Sandy Stuttgen and UW-Extension St. Croix County Agriculture Agent Ryan Sterry discuss the direct and indirect methods in determining pregnancy in a cow.
For more information regarding dairy reproduction, please visit UW-Extension Dairy Cattle Reproduction.