Confirmation of fetal viability in cattle

A case study detailing the confirmation of viability in cattle.

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Confirmation of fetal viability in cattle

The earlier you detect a non-viable fetus, the more quickly you can treat and rebreed the cow. In dairy and beef cattle, early embryonic death rates vary between 6 and 25%.

The use of ultrasound does not increase these rates. Therefore, rechecking a cow following an initial positive diagnosis of pregnancy is very important.

Using ultrasound allows you to see the movement and heartbeat of the fetus which confirms that the pregnancy is still viable. Use of manual palpation to diagnose fetal viability often results in misdiagnosis and a prolonged period where the cow is open. 

Some indicators of fetal death are:

  • Lack of movement or heartbeat (a heartbeat can be seen around 22 days)
  • Presence of flocculent material in the fetal fluids signifying that the fetus is degenerating
  • Separation of the fetal structures from the uterine wall

40 day pregnancy


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