Pregnancy Checking Can Pay the Bills
— A Note from Dr. Mike Slattery

As we approach the fall and winter seasons, diagnosing pregnancy status in your cow herd can prove to be to a financial gain. Your veterinarians at Risius Family Veterinary Service are able to accurately diagnose pregnancy in a cow or heifer as early as 30 days in to gestation. These early pregnancies are typically diagnosed with an ultrasound. If you are unsure of ultrasound or worried the technology comes at a premium, please understand that we look at a reproduction examination as the same regardless of the implement used and thus the charge for each is the same.

Perhaps more important to our producers than whether their cows get an ultrasound or just a hand up their cow’s rectums is the savings realized by identifying open cows. Consider the recent Dyersville hay auction prices of good hay costing $120-$180/ton. With an average price of $150/ton, it costs about $2 per day to feed a cow through the winter. It will not take many days of feeding an open cow to offset the cost of pregnancy checking the entire herd.

  1. Early identification of these cows (typically via ultrasound) also has the following benefits:
  2. If you still have some pasture left, that valuable resource can go to the cows that are actually carrying a calf.
  3. There is a seasonality to cull cow prices, with the late summer/early fall months typically providing the best prices.

These higher cull prices also represent a good opportunity to remove any cows with bad eyes/sore feet/ bad bags and small calves.

Pregnancy checking cows, especially earlier in gestation, provides a great opportunity for cost savings on the cow-calf operation.

If you have further questions about pregnancy checking or would like to schedule an appointment to do so, give us a call!