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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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When should I scan my cows?

According to Teagasc’s David Argue, pregnancy scanning can provide invaluable information in relation to individual cow fertility and your herd’s overall fertility status.

He advises that the “ideal” time to scan your cow is between 5-14 weeks of pregnancy.

Moreover, he urges farmers to scan four weeks into the breeding season to identify bull or cow fertility problems and to perform a main scan five weeks after removing the bull.

“Consider pregnancy scanning your cows 30 days after the last cow has been served,” he said in a video produced by Teagasc.

“Scanning will give an idea of the number of days/weeks that each cow is in-calf and will also allow the farmer to see if she is slipping in conception dates from one year to the next.”

“This information can predict the cow’s expected calving date and have an influence on how you feed the cow coming up to calving.”

“Once the cow has not passed 12-14 weeks of pregnancy, the scanner may be able to pick up any cows carrying twins. Some scanners may be able to tell the sex of the embryo, provided the cow is scanned at the correct time.”

“Predicting when the cow is due to calf allows the farmer to batch them accordingly and feed minerals at the correct stage prior to calving.”

Fertility issues and record keeping

If the scanner reveals that more than 5% of cows are not in-calf, then this may indicate that there is a fertility issue within the herd.

He says this may be down to a number of different reasons, including an issue relating to the bull’s functionality, a mineral deficiency or even a disease problem.

He says that this information will allow the farmer to take further action and investigate.

Meanwhile, good facilities are essential for farmer, scanner and animal safety.

A cattle crush, a head gate, and an anti-backing bar can be used for accurate and quick scanning.

After scanning, you can compile a record sheet with cows’ tag numbers, date served, the number of days in-calf and the expected calving date.

In summary, scanning identifies:

  • Empty cows;
  • Calving dates;
  • Cows carrying;
  • If conception dates are slipping.

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