Cattle pregnancy testing should be vet-only for accuracy

Pregnancy diagnosis in cattle for fee and reward must be retained as an Act of Veterinary Surgery and performed only by registered veterinary surgeons says the President of the Australian Cattle Veterinarians, Dr Alan Guilfoyle. Lay operators compromise animal welfare and accuracy. In contrast, the use of registered veterinarians protect the integrity of Queensland and Australia’s cattle industry, which was worth $7.1 billion in 2016-2017.

Pregnancy diagnosis requires both a manual rectal examination of the reproductive tract and ultrasound methods to determine the stage of pregnancy. It is an invasive procedure that can seriously harm animals if not performed correctly. Inaccurate diagnoses not only affect farm productivity, but also can cause catastrophic welfare issues if exported animals calve on board on live export vessels.

The Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) are a special interest group of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), and have a“PREgCHECK™ scheme which is proven to be more accurate and reliable than any other method of pregnancy testing.

“Under our scheme, only vets accredited to the PREgCHECK™ protocols are able to apply tags, so when you buy or sell a cow or heifer you know it’s been tested by a PregCHECK™ vet. The scheme has also increased the level of integrity and confidence of the Australian live export trade” Dr Guilfoyle said. The PREgCHECK™ protocols have been place for over thirty years and constantly revised to make it a scheme of highest integrity.

When a vet is on the farm performing pregnancy testing, farmers get extra benefits in addition to providing high-levels of accuracy and accountability. These include conversations about animal health and production, disease and biosecurity-related matters, and the early detection of disease. Often these diseases which have been lowering productivity over a period of time go undiagnosed. Only a veterinarian has the breadth of training and knowledge to value-add in this way.

If lay pregnancy testing is allowed, let it be very clear that there will be a loss of vets from regional and remote Queensland. In times of drought and other adverse weather events, there will be fewer vets to discuss welfare options in these locations. In Northern Australia, pregnancy testing of cattle may be the only time a vet is on the farm and this is critical for surveillance and lowering the risks of serious exotic diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

“We’re very proud to support the profitability and sustainability of the Queensland beef and dairy industries with our PREgCHECK™ scheme” Dr Guilfoyle said. “We urge the government to retain pregnancy diagnosis as a vet-only procedure to ensure ongoing best outcomes for industry”.

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