Catagra Group trainer Colin Hammond, second from right, with (from left) Mt Crompton Station graziers Julie, Rodney, Owen and Scott Angus.

Bovine ultrasound a tool for accurate pregnancy testing

More producers are incorporating ultrasound on their properties to manage pregnancy checking.

Mt Crompton Station is one of those, and undertook bovine ultrasound training.

Landholders like the convenience of determining ‘pregnant or not pregnant’ independently, while working with a highly-skilled practitioner to determine ‘why, not pregnant’ or for further examination and more sophisticated diagnosis as necessary.

The LDC project recognises the potential water quality outcomes from early pregnancy diagnosis are huge, if landholders actively respond to the information in a timely way.

Being able to pregnancy test cows sooner, and with more accuracy, allows landholders to sell off unproductive females closer to the flush of the season.

Removal of unproductive females reduces overall stocking rates and therefore keeps more ground cover present later in the dry season benefiting the landscape and the remainder of the herd.

Julie Angus said a New Incentives grant allowed them to purchase a ReproScan package, including training.

She said the ReproScan had already exceeded their expectations for the equipment in their breeding operation.

“Colin’s hands-on training is second to none, and straight out of the box, we found it very easy to use,” Julie said.

She and husband Rodney thought the ReproScan was quicker, more accurate and far less invasive than traditional pregnancy testing methods and therefore was a much more comfortable option for bovines and humans.

“We feel ReproScan is an effective decision-making tool that will allow us to make better informed decisions about individual animal placement and overall herd management,” Julie said.

“Removing  unproductive females closer to the flush of the season will keep more ground cover later in the dry season benefiting the landscape and our herd.

“A very big thank you to Adrienne [Hall] and LDC for giving us an opportunity to embrace this awesome piece of technology.”

Baby television. Watching the monitor while a scan is in progress.

Urannah Station grazier Jarad Elrott  joined the Angus family during the ultrasound training.

Mt Crompton is one of two properties in the BBB successful in securing a LDC Exploring New Incentives grant to help purchase a bovine ultrasound pregnancy scanner.  

Trainer Colin Hammond, from Catagra Group – ReproScan suppliers, travelled to Mt Crompton last week to deliver training.

Mr Hammond has been involved with bovine pregnancy detection since 1984, and with ReproScan since 2012.

The grants are aimed at encouraging landholders with innovative ideas they would like to trial to tackle property issues such as animal health and welfare, and herd productivity.

Exploring New Incentives looks at ways to address barriers, financial and other, to the adoption of improved grazing land management practices and landscape remediation approaches in the BBB catchment.

This activity area has enabled nine properties to initiate their first on ground project with the LDC project. 

Grants have been approved to support:

  • pregnancy scanning;
  • water telemetry;
  • weed wiper for Giant rat’s tail control;
  • grazing land management and Giant rat’s tail control;
  • spray mister for lantana control;
  • weed wiper for Giant rat’s tail control;
  • fire management plan; and
  • landscape rehydration, biodiversity and drones.

Colin said the Angus family quickly mastered the Repro-Scan which has provided them a fast, accurate and easy method of pregnancy testing. 

“The Repro-Scan unit allows empty non-productive cows to be identified much earlier than with traditional manual palpation,” he said.

“This gives them the ability to preg test cows paddock by paddock quickly and efficiently with cows spending minimal time in the yards. “

He said selling empty cows earlier would improve cash flow, provide savings on lick costs and allow much better utilisation of feed for productive breeders.

Visiting Urannah Station grazier Jarad Elrott (back) listens to presenter Colin Hammond (right) with the Angus family (from left), Scott, Julie, Rod and Owen.

Owen Angus at the business end of a bovine ultrasound.


Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
KEQ #8

KEQ #7
KEQ #6

KEQ #5

KEQ #4

The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

KEQ #3

*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

KEQ #1

Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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