Record drought conditions this past year in the southern plains increased the rate of decline in cattle numbers in the U.S. significantly. Today the beef herd is the smallest it has been since 1952. This shrinking supply of animals has allowed producers to receive some of the highest prices on record for weaned calves, stockers and cull animals. This tight supply of animals has also led to increased values associated with replacement animals. Replacement animal prices are expected to continue to increase as conditions in some of the drought-affected areas improve and producers begin to rebuild their herds.
In addition to the cattle supply issues, producers face higher prices for inputs and financing associated with operating. With the impacts of these factors and others, producers need to be extremely careful when making the decision to expand or rebuild.
One avenue that can be used to control risk associated with replacement animals and limited resources is to determine the pregnancy status of animals early. Pregnancy determination requires a minimal producer investment, but can have a large return and may allow for more efficient use of resources.
Pregnancy detection using palpation can be performed by a veterinarian or technician at almost any point during pregnancy. Other technologies such as ultrasound and blood based pregnancy testing can be performed earlier in pregnancy with greater accuracy than palpation. Blood testing for pregnancy detection is a relatively new technology that detects proteins produced by the placenta during pregnancy. One such livestock blood pregnancy test, BioPRYN®, offers high accuracy as early as 28 days post-breeding in heifers and cows at least 73 days postpartum.
Eric Evans of Celeste, Texas states, “After we get the blood pregnancy test results, we can start making decisions right away. New changes have made the test even more accurate and they allow us to decide earlier: who to keep, who to breed and who to cull.”
As producers plan to rebuild their cow herds, a management program using pregnancy determination is a great way of increasing return on investment and allows for more efficient use of resources, ultimately leading to a more sustainable operation.
For more information on blood pregnancy testing, call 208-882-9736 or go to the Biotracking website.
Based in Moscow, Idaho, BioTracking, LLC is a global provider of diagnostic tools to help improve livestock health and production. BioTracking is the founder of BioPRYN®, a blood pregnancy test for cattle, bison, goats, sheep, deer, elk, and other ruminants. BioPRYN® is available through a network of local, trained affiliate laboratories and offers a unique opportunity to detect pregnancy earlier, with greater accuracy than traditional pregnancy testing methods.