We spent last Sunday preg checking our heifers in Wallowa.
It seems like it's become a traditional to preg over the 4th of July weekend. Last year we ultrasounded the cattle, and since the vet we used was going to vacation in Wallowa that weekend, it worked great for both parties. This year though, that vet had a family commitment elsewhere. So instead of ultrasounding, we pulled blood on the heifers and sent it into the Genex AgSource Lab in Jerome, Idaho.
Jesse and Cheyenne had the heifers gathered and waiting at the gate to turn out onto the road towards the corrals when we got there. Everything went smoothly, and the crew got to work sorting and bringing heifers up the alley.
I ran the chute, Jesse held the tails, and Sheri pulled the blood. Sheri is a master at pulling blood - seriously, she's so good at it, and in short time we were done. Jesse and I were joking that if Sheri hadn't have been there, it would have taken all day and we probably wouldn't have been friends at the end of it. ;)
There are a few different ways you can preg heifers or cows (in our case, we're pregging heifer) - one is to preg check cattle the old fashioned way, by gloving up and palpating them. This method is commonly used on cattle that are further along, and gives a good estimate as to how far along a cow may be into her pregnancy, but isn't super accurate in terms of days. Our heifers were only 75 days past breeding, and we wanted to know specifically if a heifer was bred to artificial insemination (AI) or if she'd been bred on a later heat cycle to the bull. This meant we needed to either ultrasound the heifers, or do a blood test. Ultrasounding is nice because you know right then at the chute if a heifer is bred, how far along she's bred, or if she's open. The downside to ultrasounding is that it takes a veterinarian who's skilled in that area - and in our case, one who was willing to work on the holiday weekend.
We ended up using Genex's DG29 Pregnancy Blood Test. This test is nice to use because it's very accurate - it boasts an accuracy rate of nearly 100% in finding open cattle. This test is primarily used on dairies, but worked well for our needs. It requires some skill though - you have to be able to pull blood, but since we had Sheri there, we were good to go. 2 cc of blood was pulled from each heifer, and labeled individually. Those vials were then mailed to the lab in Jerome, and the results will be emailed to Clint within a day or two of the lab receiving the samples. We'll know how far along each heifer is in days, and that will tell us whether she took to AI, or was bred by a clean up bull. Hopefully we don't find too many (or any - wishful thinking, right?) that are open.
I'm excited to see how the heifers did - and how well our AI conception is. The goal is to sell these heifers as replacements here this fall, and the more that are bred to AI, the easier it will be to market them.
Do you preg test at your ranch?
If so, what is your favorite method to use?