Using ultrasound to detect pregnancy
Ultrasound is one of the earliest, most reliable tools available for diagnosing pregnancy. According to International Bovine Training Solutions, it provides more meaningful information than other methods.
Ultrasound use has been a popular diagnostic tool for detecting early pregnancies, but the true benefit to reproduction comes from identifying the open cows even sooner. A skilled ultrasonographer can identify a fetus and a heartbeat within 26 days of gestation. A pregnancy at such an early stage requires more methodical scans since the fetus and pocket of fluid are very small making it difficult to detect.
Following the schedule for timed artificial insemination programs, most people who include ultrasound into their pregnancy diagnosis wait until after 32 days bred to check for pregnancy. The fetus is much bigger at this time and there is more fluid to help detect a pregnancy.
Ultrasound testing also plays a major role after diagnosing pregnancy.
--Identifying dead fetuses: Soon after fertilization there is some embryonic loss beginning to take place and continues after fertilization in a decreasing rate. Most of the loss takes place prior to day 45 of the pregnancy. There can be many fetuses dead or dying during the time of the pregnancy diagnosis depending on when the pregnancy diagnosis occurs. Once dead fetuses are identified, strategies can be applied to resynchronize them as quickly as possible. This will improve heat detection rate and ultimately increase the pregnancy rates.
--Detecting small pyometras: Using a palpator to detect small pyometras can be difficult. However, using ultrasound, even a small pyometra can plainly be distinguished from an early pregnancy and strategies can be applied to return the cow to a fertile state (giving an injection of prostaglandin).
--Maximizing profits: For bull-bred herds, recognizing pregnancies and staging them precisely so that the dairy knows when to dry the cow is important to boosting profits. Ultrasound is considered to be exceptional at doing this since it can more find pregnancies earlier in gestation. By applying measuring techniques to the fetus, the stage of the pregnancy can be anticipated with strong accuracy.
For more information, read "The benefits of ultrasound in pregnancy diagnosis" by Kevin McSweeney, DVM, at www.progressivedairy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9172.