It is every producer’s dream to get as close as possible to the 100% calving percentage each year. Accomplishing this goal requires a successful reproduction programme. In this regard, early and accurate pregnancy diagnosis serves as an important diagnostic tool in dairy and beef cattle – it not only points to successful reproduction management on the producer’s part, but also makes the timely detection of problems and the identification of unproductive animals possible.

Ideal time for scanning

Bulls usually run with the cows for three months, from early October until the end of February. Scanning takes places after this period.

In the case of embryo transfer, surrogate cows are scanned after five weeks, with bulls introduced ten days thereafter. Where artificial insemination is done, scanning will take place after six weeks, after which bulls are allowed to run with the cows. Animals are usually scanned once a year.

Scanning offers a function that allows you to take a photograph or send information to a laptop as soon as the foetus is visible. Here the foetus is clearly visible on the digital screen.

Important considerations

There are a number of factors that can influence the fertility and reproductive ability of a herd. Condition plays a crucial role and cows must preferably have a condition score of 3 to become pregnant. Bulls must also be tested for fertility and sexually transmitted diseases, such as trichomoniasis, before the breeding season. 


Traditionally, cows are examined for pregnancy through rectal palpation. Pregnancy can be determined this way from five weeks. Scanning can be done effectively from three months, as the foetus will then be clearly visible on the screen of the scanning device.

Traditionally, cows are examined for pregnancy via rectal palpation. Pregnancy can be determined in this manner from five weeks. Scanning can be done from three months.

Benefits of scanning

As it offers a number of benefits, scanning should be producers’ preferred method of pregnancy diagnosis in cattle.

  • It serves as an accurate and reliable indication of which animals are pregnant and which are not.
  • Foetal viability can be determined with greater accuracy; it is impossible to determine the viability of a foetus via rectal palpation.
  • Scanning is less stressful and invasive for animals, and present fewer risks.
  • The process is quick (it takes approximately one minute to scan an animal), convenient and cost-effective.
  • It simplifies planning in terms of progeny. 
  • When animals are marketed, it serves as proof to buyers of an animal’s pregnancy status. – Anneke Wiese, Agri Sonar Scanning

For more information, contact Anneke Wiese
on 072 945 1278 or