Fetal loss from ultrasound vs. palpation in beef

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Pregnancy diagnosis is widely practiced in cattle production systems. Ultrasonography is an alternative technique to rectal palpation for pregnancy diagnosis. Fetal losses caused by rectal palpation are well documented; however, reported losses from ultrasonography for pregnancy diagnosis are often confounded by normal embryonic losses during early gestation. Losses caused by inexperienced technicians have been reported previously, but limited information is available on technicians who are in the learning process.

Our objectives were to compare fetal losses from pregnancy diagnosis during early gestation for 1) stage of gestation at the time of diagnosis

  • Overall loss was 1.55%. Risk of loss was greater in heifers <53 d pregnant compared with heifers ≥53 d (3.46 vs. 1.26%; a 2.74-fold increase) at the time of evaluation.
  • Greater fetal loss occurred with rectal palpation than with ultrasonography (2.68 vs. 1.29%; a 2.08-fold increase).
  • Heifers evaluated by inexperienced technicians had a 2.07% fetal loss, whereas heifers evaluated by experienced technicians had only a 1.06% loss; a 1.95-fold difference.

Cattle producers and veterinarians should recognize the importance of stage of pregnancy, level of technician experience and method of diagnosis used to reduce losses attributable to pregnancy diagnosis.

This information is from the University of Arkansas Beef Cattle Research Update

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