With increased feed costs this winter and shortages of forage in some areas pregnancy testing cows this fall will be vital. Hay costs of $150 per ton will equate to approximately $2 per head per day to feed a cow. It will not take too many days of feeding an open cow to offset the cost of pregnancy testing the entire herd.
There is normally a seasonal price drop in cull cow values as the fall progresses and more producers make their culling decisions.
The widespread drought this year has the potential to increase culling across the nation. Therefore, delaying pregnancy testing and culling will result in increased feed costs and decreased cull values.
Farmers may see lower pregnancy rates than normal this year because of high temperature during the breeding season. High temperatures during the breeding season will lower fertility due to embryo death and is some cases decreased estrus or bull activity.
Therefore, we may see increased open cows and higher feed costs this winter making pregnancy diagnosis more important.
Additionally, the diagnosis of Trichomoniasis in Southern Iowa should make all producers attuned to pregnancy rates as that is one of the first indications of a Trich infection.
Check with your veterinarian now to determine when is the best time for you to pregnancy test your cows based on your breeding season. Cull any open cows and critically evaluate the health status of the pregnant cows. A cow with potential issues such as bad eyes, feet, lump jaw or thin animals should probably be culled early this year as well.
Source: Grant Dewell, ISU Extension and Outreach beef veterinarian