I recently picked up a used Preg-Tone ultrasound but its been so cold lately I haven’t had a good chance to use it until today. It finally got above freezing for a day so Chris and I spent the afternoon trimming hooves and checking for pregnancies.
First lesson learned- we need to trim hooves more often. It makes it easier to trim when they aren’t grown out as much and both us and the animals are more likely to remember what we are supposed to do.
Second lesson- it would be helpful to have the dog clippers and alcohol swaps handy so that we could shave and clean a little spot of skin for placing the ultrasound wand. On some of the sheep I was able to find a bare spot and rub it clean but on a couple of sheep I’m not sure if my failure to get a positive result was due to lack of pregnancy or user error.
Third lesson- a liquid has to be used on the ultrasound wand to provide contact between the skin and the device. The instructions suggested mineral oil so that is what we used. A thicker/stickier liquid would be easier to use. I had to reapply the mineral oil a lot because it dribbled away so quickly. Next time we will try using lubricating gel (back inside the house I tested the wand with lubricating gel on my arm and it worked fine).
Fourth lesson- make sure your equipment is fully charged before starting. The battery ran out after the first sheep and so after that we had to work plugged into an extension cord. We could still use the ultrasound but it was less convenient because we were stepping over the cord and spending time and attention making sure neither we nor the sheep got tangled up in it.
Results: Etta and Francine are definitely pregnant. We weren’t able to get positive results on Elizabeth or Kaylee but we aren’t sure if its because of user error or not. Kelly was being a PITA and wouldn’t let us catch her so she’ll get hoof trimming and ultrasound done some other time. We are pretty sure that Ivy (the goat) is pregnant because she is HUGE, but I wasn’t able to find a bare spot on her to place the probe. I think to check her with the ultrasound I’d need to shave a spot first.
There is a bit of a trick to using the ultrasound- you have to figure out where to place the device to get a good contact and what angle to point it at. I think that the next time we try using it we will have better results.
note: the ultrasound instructions say that it can be used on sheep as early as 30 days after breeding. Early testing would be very helpful to know when we are able to separate the ram from the ewes and is the primary reason we bought the machine. However, its already late in the season and our sheep should be close to 3 months bred already. Next year we will try using the ultrasound closer to breeding time and that will be a better test of how accurate the ultrasound is.