Posted in Ranching

Preg Testing

It’s nearing the end of November, and winter and cold is creeping up on us.  All cows are home from the mountains, and it is now time to get ready for winter. A few weeks ago, we preg tested the first bunch of cows that made it home from the mountains; this week we preg tested the second bunch (the local vet does the preg testing). Preg testing is when the cows are checked to see if they are pregnant. Yesterday, we preg tested all the first calvers (cows having their first calves). These calves turn two in the middle of the winter so, yes, they are still quite young. The first calvers will not only be raising a calf, but are also still growing themselves. Most of the first calvers will have their calves somewhere between the end of January and February.  The other cows will have their calves somewhere between February and March although a few late calvers don’t calve until April.

When preg testing, if a cow is “open” (not pregnant), the cow will be sold. Late calvers will also be sold, (cows that don’t have their calves until after the middle of April).

Another thing the vet does is he takes a blood sample of each cow and sends it to a lab.  The lab checks to see if any cow has a disease that we have be very careful about called Brucellosis.  Our greatest risk of cows catching the disease is through the infected elk.

How could the cows catch Brucellosis from the elk? Well, Brucellosis can cause a cow elk to abort her baby if she has the disease. A curious cow may go up and sniff the placenta or an aborted fetus and contract the disease that way.

If one cow gets Brucellosis, it can spread through the rest of the herd and that would be a disaster. Another thing we would have to worry about is the fact that humans could also catch the disease if handling a cows placenta or assisting in a calf’s birth. In humans, it is called Undulant Fever.  So, if handling a cow, you have to be very cautious. The one good side of Brucellosis is it does not affect the meat, so if a cow tests positive to the disease, the cow will still eventually go to slaughter. The state veterinary office will do a series of tests. The goal is to get the infected cow out of the herd.

There is a way, though, to help prevent Brucellosis. Our cattle are given a vaccination called bangs that helps fight the disease if the cow comes in contact with it.  The shot has to be given by a certified vet. The cow will also get a tattoo in her ear to show she has gotten the bangs vaccination. Cows who get the vaccination will get it before they are a year old. Thank the Lord, none of Silver Spring Ranch cows have been found positive to Brucellosis.

Do all are cows need tested? All animals sexually intact (bulls, cows, heifers intended for breeding). Cows that don’t need tested are like steers (castrated male calves) and heifers that are for slaughter and not breeding.

I think that is all the information I could give you now on Brucellosis. Preg testing went well and we are ready for calving season beginning the end of January; so, there’s still a few months until then. I will keep everybody posted when calving season does begin. 🙂 God Bless!




Hi! I am a ranch girl who lives in southwestern MT. This blog tells about all of our adventures and stories on the ranch!

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