Monday, August 16, 2010

Boy or Girl, Bull or Heifer?

Some might say it is ruining the "surprise" if you find out the sex of baby before it is born but others might say they just like to be able to plan ahead. This is true to some cattle raisers that have pregnant cows. They like to find out the sex of the calf as soon as they can! The farm vet uses an ultrasound machine, just like the doctors use for humans, and is able to determine the sex between 60-75 days pregnant. Remember, a cow's gestation period is nine months too.

Some of the reasons for doing this include planning for how many heifers they will need to accommodate and deciding whether they will sell the offspring or not. It is another management tool for the cattle owner and one of the advances in technology that has enabled them to plan ahead for their business. Here are some photos of the ultrasound machine showing a  64 day old fetus. Can you guess what sex it is? You can click on the photos to enlarge them. ;-)
If you guessed a female, you are right!


  1. Excellent. Thanks. Makes sense, but I didn't know this technology was being used with cows. Also enjoyed the visit to Puerto Rico.

  2. It's a great technology. We have purebred cattle and use it for marketing purposes.

  3. Hi there!
    I can't figure out how to private message you on this thing, so the comment box will have to do. I'm a vet student (studying in Edinburgh, Scotland) and hope to go in to farm animal medicine once I graduate (none of this fluffy kitten business). So what's the point of this message, I hear you ask? Well, I've been reading and enjoying your blog and thought you might be able to help me. I need to gain experience as part of my degree, and have to spend time working with vets. The farm animal industry in Ireland (where I'm originally from) and the UK is a bit boring as I've been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and am looking for something a bit more... exciting. Or even, "Same stuff... different scenery", as they say.
    I was wondering if you knew of any large animal vets in the States who would be willing to allow me to shadow them (and/or get hands on) for a few weeks next summer? I don't need payment, and as long as I have a roof over my head at night, I'm happy doing anything.
    Although I'm still in the early stages of my University degree (going into year 3 of 6), I've got a fair amount of hands-on experience dealing with cattle and sheep - IV injections and whatnot.

    Emma :)

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone. The technology is amazing these days!

    Emma- what is your email address? It will be easier for us to correspond that way. We are always excited to have new young vets interested in farm animal practice. There are fewer and fewer of you all the time!

  5. And to think people just thought finding out the sex of the baby was just for the ladies...

  6. Hi again! Best one to contact me on is:
    It will be great to here from you!
    I've actually just finished a week with a dairy practice in New Zealand and I loved every minute of it. I'm so so soooo sad to be going home next week!
    Hope you enjoyed England... weather seems like it was in your favour!