Dr David Colson
When used by a skilled professional, ultrasound technology provides farmers with information that can be used in the reproductive management of their herd; it allows for early pregnancy diagnosis, foetal sexing and is gentler on both cow and operator. Advancements in the technology have made the ultrasound units very portable and more robust which has allowed them to be more easily used on farm.
How does ultrasound work?
As the name suggests, ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves that are not audible to the human ear. Ultrasound waves travel endlessly through pure water: anything with an impurity or a different density to water, such as muscle, fat and internal organs, will rebound or reflect the ultrasounds as vibration waves. The ultrasound equipment interprets the way the ultrasounds reflect off different types of material and converts this information, using crystals in the probe, into an electrical current that can be viewed as a shadowy image on a screen. Solid objects reflect a lot of waves so they appear very white, while a fluid appears grey or black with fewer waves reflected.
Is it the same as ultrasound for humans?
The ultrasound technology used in cattle is the same as that used in human medicine. To make ultrasound more suited to cattle medicine there have been adaptations over the years. The graphical portrayal of the images has greatly improved along with the size and portability of the units and the shape of the probes, which now allow for a wider image (cows’ abdomens are large). The units used by The Vet Group are the most up-to-date with a new type of probe that has a wide field of view and detailed image information at near and deep range. The probes, with 128 crystals, produce forty frames per second so there’s no lag or image loss when scanning rapidly.
How is ultrasound used?
In cattle, ultrasound technology is mainly used for pregnancy diagnosis and foetal sexing with the occasional LDA diagnosis. Even with the improvements of image quality, it still takes a skilled operator to interpret the pictures it delivers. The Vet Group’s team of ultrasound pregnancy testers are highly trained in the use of ultrasounds, and are able to perform early pregnancy testing as well as foetal sexing in your herd.
Call Farm Services 1300 838 700 if you would like to discuss how you can take advantage of ultrasound technology in the management of your herd.