CanWest DHI

Milk Pregnancy Test Services

Dairy producers have long known that improving Pregnancy Rates and reducing Days Open can have a significant economic impact. For that reason, finding those open cows and returning them to service quickly is a key component of successful reproductive programs. The milk test from DHI now provides another tool to help find those open cows.

The pregnancy milk test is based on reliable and cost-effective ELISA technology and has been validated for use on routine DHI samples.

The test is based on simple ELISA technology detecting the level of pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAGs). PAGs are produced when a cow is pregnant and rise in concentration in blood and milk as the gestation progresses. This technology is similar to what is being used in commercially available blood pregnancy tests. Blood based tests for pregnancy specific proteins have been available to producers for several years. The milk test just takes it to the next step.

In addition to being validated by the manufacturer (IDEXX Laboratories, Inc.), the test kit performed very well in a number of university studies. Richard Cantin, Manager of Customer Service for DHI indicates that convenience is a key selling point of this test. “Sample collection is already done as part of our regular service which means that there is no need to handle cows. It doesn’t get any easier than that.” He adds, “on the other hand, DHI test intervals do not fit well with the need for routine early diagnosis, so the test is better suited for 75+ days in gestation, making it an ideal test for pregnancy reconfirmation, as a supplement to early diagnosis by the herd veterinarian.”

Producers have the ability to test selected cows, or enroll on a Recheck and/or Dry Off option where on each test day, cows that meet a herd specific criteria for days since last breeding, will automatically be pregnancy milk tested. “The testing choices are very flexible and it’s up to each producer and their veterinarian to decide which testing options will best meet their needs” says Cantin.

Reproduction continues to be the #1 reason cows leave the herd so anything that can be done to improve the situation will no doubt be welcomed. Dairy producer Ben Loewith of Summitholm Holsteins in Lynden, Ontario sees some benefits to this new testing option. “Reproduction and longevity is a priority for us, so we want to find those open cows as soon as we can so we can rebreed them. I like this new service from DHI. It’s another tool and as a recheck I see a nice fit for our herd.”

Results are reported in three categories: Pregnant, Open, and Recheck inconclusive.

DHI encourages producers to work closely with their veterinarian to develop a reproductive management program that fits their herd, and to determine the appropriate pregnancy milk testing plan and test results interpretation.

Cantin concludes, ‘eventually all open cows get identified. Either very quickly or unfortunately often only after several weeks, and sometimes in the dry pen. The milk test is another tool that can help find some of those cows sooner, rather than later.

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