Pregnant or not?

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Willunga Vet Services
37 Main Rd
Willunga
SA 5172

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Phone:
8556 2075
Fax:
8556 2654

Aldinga Vet Services
16 Heathersay Ave
Aldinga Beach
SA 5173

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Phone:
8556 5498

Joining or artificial insemination (AI) may have been interrupted on some dairy farms due to the challenging weather this summer. Pregnancy testing will be a valuable tool to help you identify which cows are not in calf and decide what to do with them.

Dairy Australia's InCalf program leader, Dr Barry Zimmermann, said early pregnancy testing allows you to consider more options for not-in-calf cows.

"If you leave it too late, your only option will be culling; and that's not a great option for high producing cows," Dr Zimmermann said.

Early pregnancy testing allows you to consider options such as an extra short burst of AI (in combination with synchronising empty cows) or bumping some empty cows to the next calving group and milking them for an extended lactation.

"Synchronising empty cows and re-joining to AI is an option to get more AI calves on the ground. Talk to your vet or technician as preg testing by ultrasound can be done as early as five weeks," he said.

Pregnancy test results will also be useful later in the season when you can use calving due dates to fine tune your dry-off strategy, transition feeding program and management of late-calving cows.

"And of course preg testing is a valuable tool for reviewing how the joining program went and what could be done better next year," Dr Zimmermann said.

To get accurate calving dates in seasonal calving herds, InCalf recommends pregnancy testing twice - initially six weeks after the artificial insemination (AI) period finishes and again about eight weeks after the bulls come out.

In split calving herds with a joining period of less than nine weeks, one pregnancy test after each mating/AI period is usually sufficient.

For year round calving herds, InCalf recommends a monthly pregnancy testing program. Cows to test each month include

All cows mated more than six weeks previously and not confirmed pregnant

Cows previously diagnosed as pregnant but that you suspect may have aborted since.

When bulls are running with the herd, cows that calved more than 80 days and not previously confirmed pregnant.