Milk Test Cows for Pregnancy

Being able to milk test cows for pregnancy is an easy and affordable way to tell if your cow is bred or not. Here’s how you can do this simple process.

Our Cow Juneberry

We have a five year old Jersey who would be expecting her fourth calf if she is pregnant. This year June didn’t have very obvious heat cycles which is always frustrating.

I aimed to have her bred late summer but just couldn’t peg her cycles. Then when I finally COULD detect her cycles, it was late in the season. Our AI guy is a friend who raises Jerseys and he makes a special trip out every year to get our cows bred for us. He also raises crops and by the time I knew when June was in heat he couldn’t make it out to do the AI.

So unfortunately she wasn’t bred until late September, waaaay later than I’d like.

I kept a watch on her for her next heat cycle and didn’t detect one. Then by the time her next heat cycle was due I went and gave birth to my own daughter. Having your own newborn definitely puts the cows on the back burner so I wasn’t paying too close attention to our girl.

So we found ourselves in February, unsure of it she was bred or not back in September.

Why check if your cow is pregnant?

It’s very important to know if your cow is pregnant or not.

For one, it will affect what you feed her.

Second, it lets you know if you can expect a calf or not and when.

If you want milk, your cow needs to have a calf first. If she isn’t currently bred then you’d better hop to it.

It is also important to know if she is bred so you can dry her down appropriately before the calf arrives.

What are the options for seeing if my cow is pregnant?

Your first option is to look for signs of heat somewhere between 19-22 days post-breeding.

The next choice is a blood test which can be completed around 28 days after breeding.

Milk test is your next quickest way of testing, at about 36 days.

Your last option is to have a pregnancy check done by a veterinarian when he reaches in and feels for the developing fetus through her rectum. This can happen between 6-10 weeks into gestation.

Where can I get my cow’s milk tested?

I kid you not, I talked to no less than seven different people trying to figure out how and where to send Juneberry’s milk for testing.

In the end the closest place that would test her milk was a DHIA lab in Sauk Centre, about an hour and a half away.

DHIA stands for Dairy Herd Improvement Association. Their goal is to help farmers with record keeping and testing of their animals for optimal herd management.

How much does it cost to have a cow preg checked with a milk sample?

Get ready for this one because it’s amazing. The closest DHIA lab to me is in Sauk Centre and they charge a whopping…$4.50. That’s four dollars and fifty cents my friends. Plus of course the cost of shipping which was coincidentally also $4.50. So $9 total.

If I were to have the vet come out and do a pregnancy check, just him setting foot on the farm costs me a solid $60.

raw milk yogurt ingredients

How do I take a milk sample and mail it?

Getting the milk sample is pretty straight forward. Just milk your cow. Filter the milk as you usually would, then pour it into a pill bottle sized plastic container. Be sure to leave a little head space (gap between the top of the milk and the cap).

Tape the snot out of it, then put it in the freezer.

After it is frozen, wrap it up in some insulation (I used paper towels) and stick it in a padded envelope and mail ‘er off.

How long does it take to get milk pregnancy test results?

I was very impressed by how quickly we got results. The test was mailed on a Wednesday and by Friday I had the results e-mailed to me. Pretty fast turn around!

How accurate are milk pregnancy test results?

When you milk test cows for pregnancy it is pretty darn accurate. Over at Dairy Herd Management they cite a study that says it is over 99% accurate.

How soon can I test my cow’s milk to see if she is pregnant?

Milk tests can be completed around 35 days past the breeding date, which is pretty darn quick.

If your cow is being bred back sooner than 60 days past her last calving, then milk test isn’t a great choice as the hormones from her previous pregnancy can still affect the new test.

Cows at Rough and Tumble Farmhouse

We have all sorts of great homestead dairy content here at the farm. Be sure to check it out!

Watch and Learn

To follow along to learn if our girl Juneberry is pregnant or not and hear me go on about cow pregnancy and heat cycles, check out the video below.

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