Scanning versus cow wearables

Why should I bother getting my cows scanned when I use rumination technology?

We are seeing more farmers adopt rumination technologies (such as AllFlex or Halter collars, or CowManager tags) in their herds, with many positive benefits for the cows and farm staff. These technologies tell the user when their cow is on heat and give an optimum window for mating. 

Following this, they can then start to calculate the likelihood of a cow being pregnant based on her pattern of heat behaviour. The longer a cow does not show heat behaviour (a drop in rumination with a peak in activity), the higher the chance that she is pregnant. 

Likewise, the technology can also predict which cows are likely to be empty after mating is finished, as these cows will probably show repeated heat events at regular intervals.

Do I still need to scan?

So, why bother getting your cows scanned if the computer can tell you which ones are pregnant and which ones are empty? A good question and here's our take:

  • Firstly, none of the technologies can claim to be 100% accurate with their predictions. They monitor cow behaviour and link that to patterns of cows that were known to be on heat, empty, sick etc. It is common to see cows that still show signs of being on heat long after mating, yet when scanned are found to be in-calf.

  • The only way to be absolutely sure is to physically ultrasound the cow and visualise the calf. Our scanners can accurately match the foetal size with the mating date.

  • We can pick up abnormalities in cows e.g. twins, calves that are slipping/non-viable, calf defects (e.g. two heads, schistosomes), chronic scarring or pyometras (pus in the uterus).

  • For farms doing AI only all the way through mating, getting us in to do an early age scan before the end of mating provides an opportunity to detect any cows with foetuses that are slipping and/or phantom cows (cows that have had a heat, been mated, not conceived then gone anoestrus again) and treat them accordingly (e.g. with a PG injection) to give them a chance to cycle again.

In these tough economic times, it may seem like a good idea to skip your herd pregnancy test this season and rely on your technology. However, you could be missing out on some really key details and even risk culling the wrong cows!

So, don’t leave it to chance - get your herd scan booked in with our VetSouth team today. 


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