An important part of reproductive management programs on dairy farms is identification of nonpregnant cows and early re-insemination to achieve higher pregnancy rates. The objective of this study was to compare the effect on reproductive performance and pregnancy loss of 2 pregnancy diagnosis protocols: (1) pregnancy diagnosis performed 31. ±. 3 d after artificial insemination (AI) by ultrasonography (ULTRA), and (2) resynchronization started 31. ±. 3 d after AI but with pregnancy diagnosis performed 38. ±. 3 d after AI by palpation per rectum (PALP). Cows were randomly allocated into 1 of the 2 management programs. For cows enrolled in ULTRA, the initial pregnancy diagnosis (P1) was performed by transrectal ultrasonography at 31. ±. 3 d after AI, and nonpregnant cows were enrolled in the Ovsynch protocol for resynchronization of ovulation to receive timed AI (TAI). For cows enrolled in PALP, the Ovsynch protocol for resynchronization of ovulation to receive TAI was initiated at 31. ±. 3 d after AI regardless of pregnancy status, with the initial pregnancy diagnosis (P1) performed by palpation per rectum at 38. ±. 3 d after AI. For both groups, reconfirmation of pregnancy was performed by palpation per rectum at 63. ±. 3 d after AI (P2). Cows were inseminated after detection of estrus by use of activity monitors at any time during the study. Two levels of activity were used as a reference for cows AI after detection of estrus based on activity: an activity level of ≥2 when a cow was coded in DairyComp 305 (Valley Agricultural Software, Tulare, CA) as open (nonpregnant) and an activity level of ≥3 when the pregnancy status of the cow was unknown. Our findings showed that the odds of pregnancy loss cows in ULTRA was 2 times higher between P1 and P2 compared with that of cows in PALP. Furthermore, pregnancy diagnosis method (ULTRA vs. PALP) did not have a significant effect on the Cox proportional hazard of pregnancy at P2. The occurrence of assisted parturition, metritis, or retained placenta was associated with a reduced hazard of pregnancy at P2. An economic analysis was performed by simulating a 1,000-cow commercial dairy herd using a decision support tool to estimate the net present value (NPV; $/cow per yr) from using the 2 different pregnancy diagnosis methods. The analysis revealed minor differences in NPV between the programs, depending on the cost to perform ULTRA or PALP. In summary, we observed no difference in the reproductive performance and only a minor and fluctuating economic difference when using either PALP or ULTRA for pregnancy diagnosis of dairy cows.
- Palpation per rectum