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Benefits of early scanning

Guan Tan, Hamilton

It looks like the weather is finally starting to fine up & take a summery turn.  Hopefully all of you are getting to that quieter time of the year with mating about over & younger stock off to grazing.  As the saying goes though, there’s no rest for the wicked, and while all our farmers don’t fit that category, us vets are always looking for ways to fill up the day, which brings me to the subject of early pregnancy scanning.  There are lots of benefits to early scanning, as outlined below.

An early scan is best planned about 6-8 weeks after the end of AB.  This does mean that a later scan is still needed for rechecks & to see that bulls have been doing their job after they’re out.  If there are concerns about early pregnancy losses, a full rescan can also shed more light on the situation. This isn’t just extra work for no real gain however.

The first thing that an early scan allows you to do is accurately calculate your 6 week in-calf rate, which is obviously an important benchmark for herd fertility; better data should allow for more accurate assessments, helping you target the greatest areas of potential growth & returns.  Early scanning also lets you know which cows are in-calf to AB, which should help you identify some of the more valuable calves (& confirm sires) for replacements/sale.  This also allows early culling decisions to be made, before prices drop, or if a feed pinch is anticipated in drought season.

An early scan should also help you get more milk in your vat.  Accurate calving dates will allow you to make more accurate dry off decisions & manage the transition period appropriately.  Not only does it make less sense to dry off a September calver in March, it’s well known that early calvers struggle to compete with later calvers towards the end of lactation & during the dry period.  This can lead to under conditioned early calving cows & over conditioned late calvers.  Both of these are more likely to lead to future animal health issues.  Knowing which girls are calving & when also helps allocation to springer mobs & should prevent calvings out at the grazing block.

The reason we need to do early scans to achieve these benefits is that while cattle embryos grow at a fairly predictable rate through the first several weeks of pregnancy, this doesn’t last.  Later gestations can be diagnosed as pregnant, but aging becomes much less accurate due to individual variation.

If you have any questions about how we can add value to your herd scanning, or to book yours in & reserve the date, please give your local Vetora clinic a call.  Until then, enjoy the start of that summer sun!