Thursday, January 15, 2015

Preg check - ultrasounds today!

Big excitement today - preg check!  

Our vet comes and gives an internal ultrasound to every cow to determine 1) if she's pregnant 2) exactly how pregnant she is 3) if she has any problems.

Nick was our vet today.  I first met Nick when he was new to the practice, dealing with a uterine torsion.  (Go to that link for some great pictures.)  Now he's married, has a baby girl, and is well-seasoned!  

Like most good doctors, Nick likes answering questions about what he's doing.  (I once had a doctor who told me I asked too many questions.  I never saw him again, of course!)

So there was a lot to learn today!

Nick reaches into the cow with the probe in his hand.  It's connected to goggles that he can look into, and on the screen of his goggles is the ultrasound.  

He let me look through them - it looks a whole lot like a baby ultrasound.  I could see the beautiful spine and the little heartbeat fluttering away. 

But 'reaching into the cow' isn't an easy job.  He has to push into them up to his shoulder.  He answered that yes, lots of vets eventually tear their rotator cuffs or hurt their elbows.  He has personally overextended his elbow before.  

Sometimes the uterus isn't where he can feel it, so he coaxes it up with his hand in order to get a better feel for the calf.

Sometimes he uses his hand and not the probe to feel the calf and estimate the size.

But this isn't a one man job, of course.  Josh was in there, helping position, treat, and tag the cows.

Here's a view from the pit.

And this is a really physical job.  Right here, the cow has moved into Nick so that he's pinned and can't move.  He wasn't in pain or hurt or anything ... just clearly not going to be able to move until she leaves the parlor.  There's another vet in the clinic who's far along in her pregnancy, and this is why she isn't doing preg checks right now!

All of our cows have ear tags so that we can keep track of them.  Over time, they sometimes fall off. We give them a new one at preg check, if necessary.  


We bought some cows from a friend named Susan, and her name still goes on their tags!  (They're doing great, Susan!)

Some have names, some have numbers, and all of them wear earrings.  

We separate the cows into three groups.  We did one preg check Tuesday, one today, and we'll do one in two weeks.  We don't have enough time in between milkings to do all of them, and a vet wouldn't want to do hundreds at one time, anyway.  (See rotator cuffs.)

Josh and Adam were helping put them in the parlor, one by one.  

They'd put one in one side of the parlor, and yell the number.  Nick would check her while they put one in the other side, yell her days pregnant, go again, and so on until they were all done.  Of course, this wasn't like an assembly line ... there was lots of talking and laughing the whole way through! 

Still going ...

Nick came upon a cow that he thought had a DA, which means displaced abomasum, which is the technical term for a twisted stomach.  He listened to her with a stethoscope and ruled that out, so he wanted to check her for ketosis.  We have strips that the cows can urinate on to see if they test positive for ketosis.  

So, Nick sort of rubbed on the back of her until she peed, and Josh held the stick in her stream of urine.  It was negative, and she was fine.  Hooray!  (I've never seen a vet stimulate a cow to urinate either.  Nick said it almost always works.)

Kris was in the front, writing down all the numbers and names and taking a record of the pregnancy dates, cows that were open (not pregnant), and ones with any problems - like an ovarian cyst or an infection. 

Max mostly swung around on pipes and chatted. 

It was all a success!  The calves are growing, the cows are doing well, and we're on our way to another year of milk.  Which makes farmers ... and milk lovers ... very happy.

Want to learn more about the farm?

Like my farm page on Facebook
Follow me @carlashelley
Newsletter - form is on the right

No comments: