Risks when Pregnancy Scanning Cattle

Each year we perform thousands of pregnancy tests in cattle using ultrasound scanners without any ill-effects.

Fortunately, pregnancy testing has a very low risk but tearing of the rectum by the scanning probe can and does occur.  Once torn (either a partial or a full tear), most cattle will die due to infection (a peritonitis).

It is not uncommon that the person scanning will not be aware that s/he has torn the rectum and for these cattle they lose health in the days following scanning.

Antibiotic cover for partial tears when recognised at the time will improve their chance of survival.

To reduce the risks of tearing or perforating the rectum, lubricant is used, we attempt to limit movement of the animal particularly backing up while the probe is inserted or from being hit from behind by another beast, and operator speed linked to experience must be watched.

While we do our utmost to prevent rectal tears, please be aware this is a risk with scanning.