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Preg-Checking Your Cows Pays Off

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Having a veterinarian check cows for positive pregnancies can save a cattle producer hundreds of dollars.

According to Jude Capper, a sustainability consultant and adjunct professor at Washington State University, 90% of the U.S. cowherd has a calf each year. In Argentina, that number is 50-60%. By increasing the pregnancy rates in our cattle, we also increase our efficiency and improve the sustainability of the beef industry.

Certainly, preg-checking saves money and is an excellent management tool for selecting cull cows. However, few take advantage of this benefit. Ohio State University's Michelle Arnold says that, “According to a 1997 National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) survey, only one-fifth of cow-calf producers have their cows checked for pregnancy although the benefits easily outweigh the cost. The most obvious benefit of knowing which cows are open is cost savings. A pregnancy examination will typically average $5/head but carrying an open cow over the winter may cost several hundred dollars in hay alone (not to mention mineral, supplemental feed, vaccines and dewormers that add additional carrying costs). Knowing which females to sell allows one to make good marketing decisions.” 

Preg Checking Cattle at NolzPreg-checking is a management tool we utilize each year in our operation, so it surprises me that many cattlemen don’t use this practice. It certainly doesn’t make good business sense to feed and maintain an unproductive cow over winter. Sure, you may be forgiving to a cow that is late or a quality donor heifer that comes up open, and you may have a fall-calving herd that these females can naturally move to, but checking for pregnancy is an expense that can save a cattlemen hundreds of dollars.

A few weeks ago, we preg-checked our cowherd (see a photo gallery here) and found we had around 8% that were open. It’s always tough to sell these cows, and then there’s the added consideration of whether to feed these females longer or sell them immediately. We chose the latter in order to keep feed and hay costs down, but there is certainly value in increasing white fat in cull cows, too.

You can view a gallery from our preg-checking day here: NEW Photo Gallery: The Value Of Pregnancy-Checking Cows. 

Do you pregnancy-check your cows? How were your conception rates this year? Did this summer’s heat and drought conditions play a role in lowering your pregnancy rate?

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

Horral Jones (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

20% of my fall cows are where bred late ,I let my Bulls stayed with the cows an extra 30 days due to the drought ,after palpating our calls we had 5% open ,they where in poor flesh from the previous year drought .

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 24, 2012

We allways preg test. I think fertilty is the most important trait you can select for. You should only be keeping productive animals in your herd. Everyone else should "Get on the bus and head to town"

on Oct 24, 2012

Empty cows lead to an empty pocketbook.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Oct 27, 2012

Does anyone use the Pregscan pregnancy tester? If so, which do you prefer, using a vet or using the Pregscan?

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BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”

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Amanda Radke

A fifth-generation rancher from Mitchell, SD, Amanda grew up on a purebred Limousin cattle operation in which she and husband Tyler are active. She graduated with a degree in agriculture journalism...

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