Farmer in Portadown questions pregnancy diagnosis using milk samples collected at milk recording.


On a farm visit to a client in Portadown today, discussion arose whereby the client had been approached by his milk recording company to use milk samples collected at the time of milk recording to diagnose the pregnancy status of his cows.

He used this service over a 6-month period. However, they found the following outcomes –

  1. Cows were diagnosed pregnant and subsequently came back into heat even though they were over 5 weeks pregnant at the time of milk sample.
  2. He had two cases of cows diagnosed pregnant to a given service, but those cows were pregnant to previous insemination. This resulted in the cows not being dried off at the correct time and the implications of impaired dry cow fresh cow transition.
  3. He realized that for all the cows that were diagnosed pregnant, he had no information on attention to cows carrying twins.

In contrast the following outcomes would arise from conventional procedure of using scanning for pregnancy diagnosis –

  1. Scanning identifies pregnancy on the basis of fetal heartbeat. Cows carrying dead embryos will continue to maintain pregnancy status. On the basis of milk sample test which is totally inaccurate. This will occur in approximately 5% of cows that achieve day 28 of pregnancy.
  2. In contrast, pregnancy diagnosis using smart scan will enable accurate aging of pregnancy between 20 – 110 days of gestation. This avoids the problems encountered using milk samples for pregnancy diagnosis. Whereby a cow that has held to a previous service will be differentiated from a cow who was served to a subsequent pregnancy service which was false. It should be noted that approximately 10% of cows that are pregnant will show signs of heat during pregnancy.
  3. In contrast to the use of milk samples for pregnancy diagnosis, smart scan technology will accurately identify cows carrying twins from day 20-110 days of gestation. This is an essential part of dry cow fresh cow transition management. Cows carrying twins need preferential treatment at all stages of the cycle to enhance their survivability into the next lactation.
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