Beef breeders from central Queensland are implementing a new method of pregnancy testing into their herd that is providing almost instantaneous results at the crush.
Wes and Hayley Offord own and operate Brigalow Longhorns Texas Longhorn stud situated 45kms south of Rockhampton.
The producers currently run 75 head of registered Longhorns on their property and utilise on-farm pregnancy testing to check the fertility of their herd.
Artificial insemination is conducted with imported genetics from America.
Ms Offord said the couple initially began using tail blood testing after seeing results from American breeding counterparts.
However, due to the nature of the testing method, Ms Offord said they had to wait several days to get a result.
The couple have now begun utilising Alertys OnFarm Pregnancy Test kits, allowing them to take a blood sample and apply it to a plastic device, similar to what humans have been using for COVID RATs, and receive a result within 20 minutes.
Pregnancy can be detected from as early as 28 days post breeding and 70 days post calving.
"We have only been using the new blood test kits for a couple of months," Ms Offord said.
"They are 99.7 per cent accurate at 28 days post mating and 98.1pc accurate 70 days post calving.
"We found that it was also cost effective, and we could use them ourselves to identify open or pregnant cows quickly.
"Meaning you can make decisions while the cow is still in the crush. We sell the majority of our animals privately and using these tests we can let purchaser's know pregnancy status straight away and not have to wait for a vet."
Dr Libby Harriman of Great Artesian Veterinary Surgery in Hughenden said the new testing method had only recently become available within Australia.
"These tests have only been available in the US since August last year and obviously just got its registration in Australia in recent times," she said.
Dr Harriman said the technology works similarly to that of a COVID-19 rapid antigen test.
"The way these tests work is they put a little strip of a marker on the test," she said.
"For the pregnancy test they will be looking for a pregnancy protein.
"There is an indicator marker on the test, so when the blood flows past it, it binds to that and causes that second line to show up on the test."
Dr Harriman said many of her clients were opting not to use the tests due to larger scale operations.
"It is a lot slower than doing your manual preg testing," she said.
"Most vets will preg test around 100 cows per hour and with live sampling the best you could manage is about 60 an hour and that is just pulling the blood.
"You then have to set up the tests and wait 10 to 20 minutes to get a result.
"If you have more than 10 to 20 cows it becomes a logistical nightmare to maintain your results."
Dr Harriman said the tests were most applicable for artificial breeding technologies or fixed time programs.
"It works really well for that early pregnancy diagnosis," she said.
"I wouldn't be using it expect for an AI program where you wanted to re-synchronize your cows."
The method only currently offers a positive or negative result.
"You will only know approximately how far along in calf a cow is due to your own records and pasture management," Ms Offord said.
"We would generally check pregnancy status after AI at about 32 to 35 days post insemination."
With future plans to import American embryos, Ms Offord said the new technology suited their breeding operation.
"We also own cows in America in partnership with some Ohio breeders with the aim to import embryos in the future," she said.
"Because we don't need to check high numbers of cattle for pregnancy at once, it is a great tool for us.
"We will absolutely keep using them and have found them to be as accurate as they say they are."
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.