November 1, 2014

Have you tried blood pregnancy testing?

We recently used the BioPRYN blood test method  to preg check the cows we AI bred earlier this year before turning them in with the bull. It could not have gone smoother for us, so I wanted to talk a little about our experience, and see what some of you had to say about it. I highlighted some of the advantages and disadvantages we found with the blood pregnancy testing below.

Advantages of the blood test method:

  • Simple, quick, clean sampling. The tail bleeding was very easy to do. We only had trouble with one cow, and the process was much cleaner that palpating.
  • You can test earlier. You only have to wait 30 days after breeding.
  • Quick results. We received the results of our test the same day the samples were delivered to the lab. Obviously, this isn’t as quick as the immediate response you get with palpation, but you can also sample cattle on your own time, instead of working with your veterinarian’s schedule (if you don’t palpate yourself).
  • It seems to be highly accurate. Of course, we won’t find out for ourselves until calving season, but the results we read about seem promising. We were trying to sell a bred cow (assuming she was bred) the same week, and wanted to be accurate with the preg check to avoid an unhappy customer.

Disadvantages of the blood test method:

  • Only gives the result of open or bred. The blood tests cannot reveal how far along each cow is. For our purposes, this wasn’t necessarily a big issue. Since all the cows we checked were AI bred, we had an exact breeding date anyway.
  • Waiting for samples to travel through the mail. There are only a handful of facilities that can do the testing. Unless you live close to a BioPRYN affiliate that can run the test, you have to mail in your samples. It took ours two days to travel from Arizona to Kansas, even though it was sent “overnight”.

If you  are thinking about using the blood testing method to preg check your own cows, CattleMax does have the proper record fields to enter the results in your Pregnancy Check History or Pregnancy and Breeding History screen.

Pregnancy Check record

Have you already tried the blood test method to preg check in your herd? If so, what did you think? What are some of the advantages and disadvantages you found?

Comments from other readers...

  1. I just used this method also for the first time. Luckily im in Florida where a vet i grew up with uses biopryn, and i was able to get the results the next day. Im still waiting on the calf but the process was really simple i actually did it in a trailer with no head shut . I have a small section in the front of my trailer that barely fits two cows so i put two in there and bleed the cows since i did not have a head chute at this location. It was alot easier than running her to a set of pens. This cow was about to go to the market but biopryn saved her.

  2. Can I ask which lab you sent them to?

  3. I believe it would have been sent to SEK Genetics as they are the only BioPRYN lab in Kansas. A full list of labs can be found online at BioTracking’s website at http://www.biotracking.com/labs

  4. How difficult was it learning to draw the blood? Cost?

  5. Drawing blood is relatively easy. 2 videos are on my website for drawing via tail bleed. If you have a good working relationship with your vet they will usually be happy to show you how, or visit with one of the local colleges that have an animal science department, some researchers/professors do it routinely or have done it and are glad to help as extension education. costs vary across labs, but we offer the test at $2.50/head with discounts available based on over 100 samples or multiple test request.

    • Adam Schauf says:

      I have tried to draw blood but was unsuccessful. We were using a needle and syringe under the tail and above the rectum. Was never able to get any blood into the syringe; just created a vacuum when pulling on the plunger and got nothing. What is your website with the videos?

    • Michelle Titze says:

      We have one cow and this sounds like the way we will be doing it what is your company for doing this”?

  6. Glen Bohlander says:

    Collecting blood samples is very easy. I used to work for the State of California Department of Food and Ag “Animal Health Branch” I began working in 1979 when Brucellosis was quite a problem. Through the years I hae bled thousands of animals through the tail method. We used to use plastic viles with about a 1 1/2 ” needle. All you have to do is have the animal secure “most the bleeding we did was through a squeeze chute or just the stantions, behind a gate or whatever else worked ” We would walk up behind the cow then grab the tail, lift it up over the cows back using firmness if necessary to keep the cow from moving to much or kicking, then insert the needle straight in at the base of the tail. squeeze the tube until blood fills it and that’s about all. You will learn pretty quick.
    Hope this helps
    Hamilton,MT
    Glen

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