Ultrasound scanner allows on-ranch pregnancy checks

REGINA – Its $4,600 price tag still isn’t cheap, but a new product from

Australia makes ultrasound pregnancy testing affordable and safe for

many producers.

Scantech, which works with ruminants, camelids and pigs, detects

amniotic fluid surrounding a fetus.

Its Canadian distributors say it will detect pregnancy in horses

beginning at 11 days, cattle at 28 days, alpacas and goats at 16 days,

and sheep and pigs at 23 days.

It can’t detect the number of animals in multiple births in sheep,

goats and pigs or in early pregnancy in horses because of the tight

location of the fetuses.

The hand-held device measures the distance between the scanner and the

fetus. It can also estimate gestation progress, depending on the animal

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being tested, the depth to the fetus and location of the fetus.

Rib-eye and back fat measurements can also be taken.

Rather than displaying an internal image, the ultrasound makes

measurements and compares them to known averages from within a species.

Using these numbers, the unit calculates data from the tested animal

and presents it on a screen.

Pregnancy is measured in plus or minus 75 days while rib-eye area and

back fat depth are indicated in millimetres. The manufacturer says the

scanner eliminates abortions caused by internal exams because internal

probing isn’t required.

Andy Olson of Hershey, Nebraska, uses two of the machines on his

10,000-head feedlot.

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“It works great on horses,” he said.

“It would be good for preg-checking cattle for a cow-calf guy or on

purebreds where they’re all at the same stage (of pregnancy) or if

you’re looking for animals that didn’t take …. It’s not so good for

the feedlot where we are just trying to determine how far along they

are and they’re all different.”

Rebecca Tiederman of North Platte, Neb., said the scanner has worked

“extremely well” for her family.

“It would be best suited to producers, cow-calf folks, with lots of

cows to check. Real good for them. Or in places where vets were in

short supply. It’s real accurate.”

For more information, contact Graham McKenzie at 306-456-2526 or see

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the manufacturer’s website at www.animalscan.com.