When you think of a farm vet, you no doubt have an image of a person clad in waterproofs with their hand up the backside of a cow, writes Steve Carragher.
Well, at this time of the year, that mental image would actually be very accurate.
As the days begin to shorten, we spend a lot of our time pregnancy-testing spring-calving cows.
Cows have generally been out at grass since May and running with the bull for several months.
Finding out their pregnancy status at this time of year is valuable information so as to start planning for the housing period.
This year the pregnancy rates have been very good, with several farms achieving the target of 95 per cent of cows in calf to a nine-week bulling period.
To achieve this, many factors have to be controlled from infectious diseases to nutrition.
This summer, nutrition has generally been very good and, with abundant, good-quality grass in front of them, cows have put on weight since turnout which is reflected in the good pregnancy testing results.
Infectious diseases must also be controlled in order to maximise fertility.
Diseases such as bovine viral diarrhoea and leptospirosis can be controlled through the use of vaccinations whereas Johnes disease and neospora are examples of diseases where cows need to be removed from the herd if identified.
Investigations into poor fertility are the backbone of modern farm veterinary services. Is there an infectious disease process reducing fertility? Are the bulls working optimally? Are the cows in ideal body condition or are they deficient in trace elements?
Identifying why a herd is not performing to its full potential can be a difficult task, but seeing the results improve can be extremely rewarding.
There are still many cows to be pregnancy tested this autumn, but so far the results are very promising.
If you would like to know more about the services offered by our farm veterinary team, visit www.alnorthum briavets.co.uk or call your local branch.