December 9, 2022
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SHE’S DEFINITELY PREGNANT UNTIL SHE TURNS UP EMPTY AT SCANNING! - PHANTOM COWS
There are always those cows that come scanning time turn up empty even though they had one mating early on and didn’t return on heat.
These cows are known as phantom cows, which is defined as cows that do not return on heat within 24 days of an unsuccessful insemination. They are essentially pretending to be pregnant. Researchers are currently trying to find out why some cows do this.
It is estimated that the current phantom rate of the national herd is up to 10%. We have found it is around 20% in hormonally treated cows (CIDR or DIBs). You can roughly work out your phantom rate by the total number of cows that received a single insemination, did not return on heat and have showed up empty at scanning.
So, what can be done? If reducing your empty rate is a priority and retaining valuable cows in your herd, then doing early scanning of cows at 35 days post insemination can be done. This is useful for hormonally treated cows which are all mated in the first week of mating. Provided the cows have not been mated since, we can confirm them empty and decide if you would like to intervene. For this to take place you need excellent record keeping and heat detection. We usually do the scanning in week 5 or 6 of mating.
If you would like to know more about this please ask your vet.