The IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test in large-animal practice

An interview with Lindsey Eby, DVM, La Osa Veterinary Services

A cow and her calf

The timely detection of bovine pregnancy—along with herd health for overall reproductive performance—is of great importance to both dairy and beef operations. The earlier veterinarians and producers can identify open cows and confirm pregnancy, the better. IDEXX offers several options that complement routine palpation and ultrasound examinations to improve reproductive efficiency.

Lindsey Eby, DVM, and James DeGroot, DVM, of La Osa Veterinary Services in Visalia, California, recently integrated the IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test into their clinic’s offerings. We talked with Dr. Eby about why they chose to do so and how the test benefits both their clients and their business.

IDEXX: First, tell us a little about your practice.

Dr. Eby: James and I are both passionate about animal agriculture and enjoy finding new ways to improve production and animal welfare. We graduated from veterinary school together and recently started our own practice, which is focused on dairy and beef production medicine.

IDEXX: What types of services do you provide?

Dr. Eby: We offer pregnancy diagnosis via ultrasound, herd health management consultation and advanced reproductive technologies with regard to embryo work. Our services include bovine palpation, protocol consultation, disease management strategies, surgery, embryo transfer, acupuncture and, most recently, the IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test.

IDEXX: How do you differentiate your practice from other large-animal or mixed veterinary practices?

Dr. Eby: Word of mouth is a powerful thing in this community. We believe if we treat our clients with respect and work hard for them, we will earn their trust, which is the most important factor in the veterinarian-client relationship. We are very hands-on with our clients and spend a lot of time learning about their operations. We hope they can learn from us as we work together to achieve their goals.

IDEXX: What have you found to be the benefits of incorporating this test into your practice?

Dr. Eby: It has allowed our clients to find open cows faster, thus enabling them to re-enroll these cows into synchronization programs to get re-bred sooner. The cost of an open cow is anywhere from $5 to $7 a day. If we don’t have to wait 2 weeks or more for a herd check to find the open cows, we can save the client a lot of money.

The test has allowed us to be more efficient with our time. If we replace the early pregnancy diagnosis #1 (the 28- to 42-day check) with a visual pregnancy test, it frees up time for us to offer other services to current clients or to take on new clients. In addition, the IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test has opened the door to many more conversations about reproduction via email, over the phone or on farm.

IDEXX: What are some key tips you would give to other veterinarians who are considering adding this test to their practices?

Dr. Eby: We did our own trial where we performed pregnancy diagnosis via ultrasound and drew blood on the same cows and then ran the test. This helped to build our trust in the test.

IDEXX: What is your impression of the IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test?

Dr. Eby: The test is easy to use. As with any test, there is still room for human error. We are very meticulous about how we double- and triple-check numbering to ensure mistakes are not made when running a large volume of tests at a time.

IDEXX: What is your process for the test? Who performs it?

Dr. Eby: We do! Two veterinarians run the tests twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays) with same-day results. We run the test in the evening and email the results before the next morning. Our goal is to be able to offer the test 3–4 days a week. Our clients draw the blood and send it in for testing.

Veterinarian caring for the cows

Dr. Eby’s partner, James DeGroot, DVM, finishes up his morning at a Hanford, California, dairy

IDEXX: How do you integrate the IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test with ultrasound and/or palpation?

Dr. Eby: We believe the best way to use this test is for the first early pregnancy diagnosis. Our goal is to find the open cows as soon as possible. We feel very strongly that you should follow up with a second pregnancy confirmation via rectal palpation or ultrasound. The IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test can tell you if a cow is pregnant or open. Your arm or an ultrasound can tell you more; for example, if there are twins, ovarian cysts, a mummified fetus, pyometras, ovarian structures and so on.

IDEXX: What would you say to veterinarians who are skeptical or hesitant about incorporating chemical pregnancy testing into their practices?

Dr. Eby: If we don’t embrace technology, the progressive producers won’t embrace us. We don’t feel that a visual pregnancy test will replace the role of veterinarians in pregnancy diagnosis; it is one more tool for our toolbox.

IDEXX: Where do you see your practice in the future with the IDEXX pregnancy portfolio and other testing?

Dr. Eby: We would love to have the IDEXX ELISA platform to run and capture more results faster, including tests for Johne’s disease (paratuberculosis) and bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV).

Visit our site to learn more about all IDEXX pregnancy tests, including the in-clinic IDEXX Visual Pregnancy Test, the IDEXX Milk Pregnancy Test and the Bovine Pregnancy Test, or call 1-800-548-9997.

The cost of an open cow is anywhere from $5 to $7 a day. If we don’t have to wait 2 weeks or more for a herd check to find the open cows, we can save the client a lot of money.

Lindsey Eby, DVM