Annual pregnancy checking of your cow herd is beneficial in several ways. The biggest reason is for identification of open cows after the breeding season so that you can decide on how to manage them, but there are also benefits for the cows that are going to stay in the herd.
Identifying open cows in the fall allows you to save a lot on input costs. Open cows that are sold in the fall save a lot of money on feed costs over the winter. A 1300-pound cow eats roughly 30 pounds of hay per day. At current hay prices, that costs about $2.18 per day (at $145/ton). Over the course of November through March, that adds up to about $330 just in hay costs for one cow. When you add in the costs of mineral, protein supplements, labor, and animal health, it makes it very difficult for an open cow to ever pay for herself, especially if she does not breed again the following year. Culling open cows in the fall will also save on total feed usage, which may prevent you from having to purchase hay (or at least from purchasing as much) during the winter.
Pregnancy checking can be very accurate in predicting when a cow will calve. Using ultrasound, a veterinarian can detect a calf as early as 28 days of gestation. Using traditional palpation, we can detect calves at 45 days of gestation. The method used will depend on how far along the cows are supposed to be and also on how much you want to spend; ultrasound is slightly more expensive. Knowing how far along the calf is in the fall is useful in estimating when a cow will calve. The distribution of how far along they are is also indicative of your bulls' performance over the summer.
Pregnancy checking also gives you a good opportunity to look over your cows individually, which will allow earlier detection of problems such as lameness and abnormal weight loss. While you are running the cows through the chute anyway, you can also administer dewormer and give them any fall vaccinations that you would like to use.
If your calves have not been worked yet this fall, now is the time to do it! Call us and make an appointment a couple of weeks in advance.
The same goes for pregnancy checking - be sure to call us a couple of weeks early so we can be sure to schedule it when you want to do it.
What's New at LCVC
Thanks for reading our clinic newsletter! We would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who came to our laser therapy open house day. We had a lot of fun and are very excited about this new method of improving animal health!