Ultrasonography is one of the key reproductive technologies used daily at PRS. A fair amount of information can be obtained about a cow's reproductive tract using rectal palpation. However, ultrasound allows for much greater diagnostic capabilities and is one of the most important tools we use. Ultrasonography has many significant uses including but not limited to the evaluation of ovarian pathology and follicular reserve counts, early pregnancy determination, assessment of fetal health, fetal sexing, and diagnosis of multiple pregnancies or fetal abnormalities.
One of the key times ultrasonography is utilized at PRS is during the pre-enrollment exam of cows boarded at our facility. Each cow undergoes a thorough reproductive exam using ultrasound technology. The entire reproductive tract is examined for signs of abnormalities that may hinder maximum reproductive performance. Some of the problems we frequently detect are non-cycling cows, pregnant cows (who are supposed to be open) and follicular cysts. All of these conditions can limit a cow's reproductive success, thereby costing the client significant time and money if not diagnosed or left untreated. By using ultrasonography, we are able to detect and treat these problems, giving the cows the opportunity to achieve their maximum reproductive potential for the client. Additionally, we can use ultrasound to help estimate follicular counts on donor cows. This allows us to categorize each donor as a low, medium or high egg producer and subsequently determine the appropriate FSH dosage for each cow. This information is also shared with our clients so that they can make the best management decisions about which cows to flush and/or what semen to use.
Another important time that ultrasonography is used by PRS personnel is for pregnancy determination. Sure, rectal palpation can be used to verify pregnancy in cattle, but even a highly-trained individual can only detect a pregnancy as early as about 35 days post-insemination. Ultrasonography allows us to detect pregnancy by 27 days after breeding (or 20 days after embryo transfer), thus providing significant savings in board fees for the client. An added advantage of ultrasonography is the ability to determine the sex of a developing fetus. This becomes important in breeding scenarios where one sex is deemed superior to the other. Ultrasound is also useful in diagnosing multiple pregnancies or fetal abnormalities. Knowledge of these conditions can help clients make the best management decisions prior to the calf (or calves) being born.