With fall upon us, checking the pregnancy status of your cow herd allows you to make timely culling decisions and focus your resources on the sound, reliable breeders in the herd.

I hope “preg-checking” is an annual ritual for your herd. If you have not incorporated this management practice in the past, consider these numbers: It costs roughly $5 per head for a bovine pregnancy exam, compared to $100 per head for feeding an open cow hay through the winter. It is easy to see that pregnancy testing quickly pays for itself.

Second, pregnancy testing will provide a producer with the information of when cows will be calving based on the age of the fetus at the time of the pregnancy exam. An average calving date can be calculated for the herd, and the producer can use this information to better supplement the cows through the winter. The nutrient requirements of cows increase as pregnancy progresses, and having this information will allow a producer to adjust the supplementation in a timelier manner.

A final bit of advice: sell cull cows early. The market for cows is usually good through September, and then the price goes south at a fairly rapid pace with lows in November.