There was a significant number of late embryo deaths in pregnant dairy cows during the May period, according to Reproinfo’s Sean Ramsbottom.

“This did not come as a total surprise, as many cows were under significant stress at that time. This was a result of the poor weather and the lack of good quality grazing,” said the Portlaoise-based scanning technician.

“Obviously, matters improved once the weather warmed up and grass availability improved.”

Ramsbottom confirmed that increasing numbers of Irish dairy and suckler farmers are now having their cows scanned on a regular basis.

“The technology is a fundamentally important tool, when it comes to improving fertility levels within herds.”

Ramsbottom said that an early post calving scan will help identify fertility problems, such as womb infections, at an early stage.

“These can then be rectified in short order, which will allow farmers to obtain that all-important 365 day calving index. The alterative of waiting until the breeding season is effectively over and identifying empty cows at that stage, is totally self-defeating.”

Modern scanning systems will confirm pregnancy in cows at 32 days, post breeding, with an accuracy level of up to 95%.

“We can determine the sex of the embryo from Day 50 up to Day 120 of pregnancy,” said Ramsbottom.

“After four months, the size of the growing calf becomes too big in order to allow gender identification with any degree of certainty.”

The Reproinfo team of technicians is currently scanning 200,000 cows throughout the island of Ireland on an annual basis.

“In the Republic of Ireland, the demand for the service is very seasonal. However, the opposite is the case in the North, where year-round calving is now the norm,” said Ramsbottom.

“We supply farmers with a full report on each cow scanned at each visit. This includes a confirmation of pregnancy status and a projected calving date, where cows are found to be in calf.”