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Aina Meducci 2012


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Pregnancy Diagnosis in cattle

This topic reminds me of what we have done during our first industrial training-cattle farm at Ulu Lepar. We do rectal palpation to estimated the fetal size and period of gestation. It was a funny experience to be remembered.

Stick your hand in the rectum!!


In both beef and dairy cattle, pregnancy diagnosis is an important tool to measure the success of a reproductive management, to allow for early detection of problems and to achieve resynchronization of nonpregnant cows. Here are some examples of how pregnancy diagnosis can affect the performance of beef and dairy cattle operations:

Estrus Detection
Cows are commonly show estrus approximately every 21 days (20 days for a heifer). The actual average length in lactating dairy cows is about 23 days. After insemination, cows can either conceive or fail to conceive to that service. If a cow is pregnant after insemination, the corpus luteum will not regress, progesterone concentrations will remain high, and the cow will not return to estrus.

Alternatively, if a cow is not pregnant after insemination, the corpus luteum will regress, plasma progesterone concentrations will decrease, and the cow will return to estrus approximately 20-23 days after insemination. Therefore, if a cow is observed in estrus after insemination, it can be concluded that she is nonpregnant.

Secondary heat signs include:

  1. Riding of other cows can be a sign of heat, but all riders are not necessarily in heat.
  2. Roughened hair, or hair rubbed off, on the tailhead may be evidence of others riding, indicating this animal may be in heat.
  3. Cows in heat may follow others, stand close and sniff, nuzzle and lick the back or rump of others.
  4. Cows in heat or near onset of heat tend to group together.
  5. Cows generally are more nervous than usual, and may bawl considerably, pace the fence and generally are more restless. Keen observers, familiar with their animals, often can tell cows in or approaching heat by subtle changes in normal appearance. A drop in milk production sometimes is observed.
  6. Another good indicator is stringy, clear (egg white appearance) mucus hanging from the vulvar opening or smeared on the tail or buttocks. Clear mucus discharges often can be seen in the gutter or on the ground where a cow had been resting.
  7. The vulvar lips will look moist and slightly swollen. A somewhat smoother surface is shown rather than the normal dry, finely wrinkled vulvar lips of a non-estrous cow. Further, the hairs of a cow in heat tend to be wet and matted and smeared by tail and rubbing activity.
  8. Bloody mucus, although not a consistent sign, can be observed between the second and fourth days following heat. This is not a sign of heat, but indicates the animal was in heat several days ago. Observe closely for the next heat cycle in about 15 to 20 days.

* wear gloves

Procedure for Examination of the Reproductive Tract by Rectal Palpation

Entering the Rectum

1) The cow is restrained by placing it in a crush

2) The cow can be gently touched on the flank or back to make it aware of the palpator's presence and to allow evaluation of the cow's temperament.

3) Before beginning palpating, the arm used for palpation (either will do; whatever is most comfortable) should be covered with a suitable palpation sleeve. The palpation sleeve can be attached to the sleeve of the coveralls or work shirt with a hemostat or clothespin.

4) After donning the palpation sleeve, the glove should be lubricated with K-Y jelly or a commercially-available lubricant such as those sold by Nasco or ABS.

5) Approaching the cow while standing somewhat sideways, grab the tail with the ungloved hand and push it aside (for cows prone to kicking, the tail can be raised perpendicular to the cow to prevent kicking). The anus can be identified as the upper of the two openings under the tail (the lower one being the vulva).

6) To enter the rectum, form the hand into a cone shape by bringing the fingers and thumb together and use a slight rotary motion to insert the fingers and hand into the rectum. Entering the rectum takes some physical effort because of the strength of the anal sphincter muscle and because of peristaltic contractions in the rectum. The contractions often subside after the arm has been placed in the rectum. To enter the rectum while strong contractions are taking place, the palpator must use enough force to overcome the contractions while being careful to avoid injuring the cow.

7) After the rectum has been entered, the palpator should remove fecal material from the rectum by using the cupped hand as a rake.

8) It is possible for the cow to suck air into the rectum, especially if the palpator makes many rapid in-an -out motions with the arm. When this occurs, it is nearly impossible to palpate the reproductive tract because the rectum balloons outwards. To reduce the problem, air can sometimes be removed by grasping a fold of the rectal wall and slowly moving it backwards to the anus.

Finding and Palpating Structures in the Reproductive Tract

1) For a new palpator, the cervix is usually the best landmark to help find the reproductive tract. The cervix can be identified as a rope-like or chicken-neck-like structure about 3 inches in diameter that is usually in the pelvic cavity along the midline. Sometimes, the bladder can displace the reproductive tract so that it lies to the right side of the pelvic cavity.

2) The cervix can be picked up and held in the hand. Do not attempt to grab the cervix between thumb and the first two fingers of the hand because it is hard to hold the cervix in this manner. Rather, grab the cervix from the side while placing the the fingers underneath the cervix and the thumb on top. If the reproductive tract is located far forward in the abdominal cavity, one can use the cervix to pull the reproductive tract into the pelvic cavity.

3) The uterus can be identified and examined by following the cervix forward. To do so, the cervix and uterus is grasped in the hand so that the hand lies over the tract with the palm down and the thumb underneath the tract. The external bifurcation can be identified as the point where the two uterine horns branch from the uterine body. The two horns should be roughly the same size although this will not be the case during late pregnancy and the early postpartum period. The uterine horns can very greatly in size depending upon the reproductive status of the animal. At estrus, the horns tend to be in a turgid, muscular state.

4) The ovaries are either tucked slightly underneath the uterus or located to the side of the uterus at a variable distance. Sometimes, the ovaries can be found by grasping the uterus, and then, after release of the uterus, turning the hands counterclockwise while using the fingers to probe for the ovary. Once located, the ovary can be grasped with the fingers while the ovary is held in the palm. The fingers can be moved along the entire surface of the ovary - periodic pressure is applied by the fingertips to search for ovarian structures. Follicles appear as pliable, fluid-filled structures. Care must be taken to avoid rupturing preovulatory follicles. Corpora lutea appear as hard structures that often protrude from the edge of the ovary. Sometimes, the ovulation fossa can be identified as a protruberance from the surface of the corpus luteum.

5) The oviducts are usually not found during palpation unless some pathology is present (i.e., oviductal inclusion or infection).

Fetal size based on gestation stages;

First Trimester

 1 month – marble size

 6 week – hen egg size

 2 months – baseball size

 3 months – softball size

 Second Trimester

 4 months – volleyball size

 5 months – basketball size

 6 months – fetus out of reach

 Third Trimester

 7-9 months – bony calf, increasing in size

The following list describes when specific structures can first be palpated:

bulletMembrane Slip - 30-35 days
bulletAmniotic vesicle - 35-60 days
bulletFetus - 65 days
bulletPlacentomes - 90 days
bulletFremitis - 120 days

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Ngagay JIgdrel Dorji said...

Nice beginning...me too graduates on 2014...best wishes.

Aina Meducci said...

thanks :)

DrNarendra Sharma said...

Nice beginning...nice job....

aurangzeb khan said...

nice, dr Aurangzeb khan

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