Pregnancy testing is a low-cost management tool that generates high returns. Savings can be realized in two ways when testing is performed in the fall. First, open cows can be sold or separated and put on a lower level of nutrition, reducing winter feed cost. Second, an open cow can be replaced with a pregnant cow.

To make pregnancy testing cost effective, it is important to have the correct diagnosis. Although some producers try to do their own checking, few have enough practice to produce consistently accurate results. Producers that make a 2 percent or 3 percent error would easily cover the cost of hiring a professional to accurately perform the procedure.

Incorrecly identifying pregnant cows as open costs you money, approximately $100 or more per inaccurate diagnosis (purchase price of a bred cow minus price received for the culled cow). Compare that to the normal fee for a veterinarian to check cows—between $2.00 and $3.50 per head. If a person doing the checking makes a 2 percent to 3 percent error, or 2 to 3 cows out of 100 are culled as open, the cost is equal to the total cost of the pregnancy testing procedure for a 100-head cowherd.

If cows are open but identified as being pregnant, a cost of $60 to $100 is incurred in wintering the open cows. At $80 per cow for wintering, an error of four misdiagnosed cows would pay the cost of pregnancy testing.