Chandy Olson, a St. Onge, S.D., veterinarian, has some ideas on how to get more out fall preg checking.
Identify and scrutinize late-breeders as well as open cows.
"Making excuses for cows that breed late and keeping them in the herd frequently leads to problems the following year. These cows are the least likely to breed when feed conditions are challenging and have the highest risk for being disease carriers. Keeping them in the herd just extends the calving season," Olson says.
Divide cows into calving groups that are 20 to 30 days apart (i.e. early, middle and late calving groups) to help target feed resources to cows as they enter their third trimester and focus labor efforts during calving.
Evaluate the productive health of a cow herd. "Herds with an abnormal amount of late calving cows may indicate a reproductive disease problem, a bull fertility concern, or more frequently a nutritional or stocking rate issue," she says.
Monitor body condition score while working cows for preg checks. The optimum score is usually 5 to 6. Because it is a subjective rating, she suggests getting a third party to verify the scores.
Plan to add weight to thin cows after weaning so they can maintain that condition through the winter and into calving. This strategy is usually less expensive and more successful than trying to add weight to cows just prior to calving next winter or spring. "Adding weight to thin cows later in gestation during extreme cold is virtually impossible due to high energy requirements to maintain body temperature, growing gestational requirements and increasingly limited rumen capacity," she says.
Fall vaccinations might be a good idea, too. But they are not a silver bullet.
"Cows in poor condition won't breed well regardless of mineral, vaccine or fancy bulls," she concludes.
Gordon is a from Whitewood, S.D.