Reproduction is the key driver of the profitability on a dairy. Veterinarians have played a key role in the management of reproduction. Most of the management involves identifying cows that are not pregnant so that steps can be taken to inseminate cows as soon as possible. Historically pregnancy diagnosis (or non pregnant diagnosis) has been performed by veterinarians using their arm and rectal palpation. Over the last 15 years advancement in technology has allowed ultrasound to begin to take over as the diagnostic tool of choice in pregnancy diagnosis. Ultrasound provides more and better information that allows for better and instant management decisions and ultimately better reproduction and profitability.
There has been a continuing shortage of veterinary school graduates entering food animal practice, while the number of animals remains unchanged. This along with commodity price pressure has forced the dairy industry to turn to more technician help to perform tasks usually done by veterinarians. The last USDA survey done of the dairy industry in 2007 found that in the west 31.4 percent of the dairies that performed pregnancy diagnosis used someone other than a veterinarian.
Dr. McSweeney, having learned ultrasound prior to becoming a veterinarian and being a herdsman on large dairies, realized that the future of reproductive management was utilizing technicians to perform the bulk of pregnancy diagnosis. He created a practice around this belief, incorporating many technicians into the physical diagnosis of pregnancies.
Bovine Reproductive Specialists (BRS) has been involved with training over 100 technicians in both Spanish and English over the last 10 years, and led to the creation of International Bovine Training Solutions. IBTS was created to meet the dairy industry’s growing needs and demands for properly trained reproductive ultrasonographers in the United States and internationally.