INTEREST in early and accurate pregnancy testing is skyrocketing on the back of herd rebuilding, cattle veterinarians are reporting.
At a time when it’s critical to cut out any uneconomical decisions on both the restocking front and at the farm management level, producers are looking for the best ways to take false positives out of the equation.
Uptake of the time-proven Pregcheck scheme has grown rapidly since the herd rebuild began, president of the Australian Veterinary Association cattle group Dr Alan Guilfoyle said.
At any time, it’s use makes a marked impact on productivity and farm profits but at the moment it was a tool in particularly hot demand due to the desire to get numbers on the ground as fast as possible, he said.
“Accuracy is critical to get a good return on your investment – it’s important for productivity, which affects profitability,” he said.
“For example, if you test a cow for pregnancy and receive a false positive, you’ll put it back in the field believing it’s pregnant when it’s not, and that’s an extra year’s worth of feed.
“If the cow is pregnant but tested as empty, it’s pure economic loss.
“Better control of the calving cycle also helps producers to segregate according to stage of gestation leading to better nutritional and grazing management as well as better welfare outcomes.”
Vets were hearing that discerning buyers at cattle sales were placing a lot of value on the Pregcheck tags, he said.
“It is proving a top marketing tool,” Dr Guilfoyle said.
“It means people can buy cattle according to what their needs and wants are, knowing exactly how individual animals will fit into their system.
“If you are rebuilding you don’t want to take any gambles but also, if you’re a feedlotter chasing empty heifers you don’t want any costly mistakes.”
The scheme, which has been around for 30 odd years, was extremely robust and had been constantly reviewed and upgraded, Dr Guilfoyle said.
Only accredited vets are able to apply tags and the scheme requires extensive examination of the reproductive tract manually or with ultrasound, including the uterus foetus and the placenta to determine the stage of pregnancy.
The benefits far outweigh the costs and it has become a crucial part of sound cattle management, Dr Guilfoyle said.
“It also allows for traceability, increasing the level of integrity and confidence in our live export trade,” he said.
For more information about Pregcheck visit http://www.ava.com.au/cattle/pregcheck-public.