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RYAN TAYLOR COLUMN Winter predictions for spring: PG time

TOWNER, N.D. Not everyone knows what it means when a rancher says he's going to have his cows PG'd. Hint, the P and G doesn't stand for a Proctor and Gamble personal care product.

TOWNER, N.D. Not everyone knows what it means when a rancher says he's going to have his cows PG'd. Hint, the P and G doesn't stand for a Proctor and Gamble personal care product.

I've been accused of sharing more information than necessary at times in this column, so I'll just say, on our ranch, PGing means bovine rectal palpation to determine pregnancy. I'll leave it at that.

So when we want to find out which cows are in the "family way" for spring, we run them through the chute in the fall or winter to palpate the presence of junior developing in the womb.

There have been advances in pregnancy detection. Cows can get an ultrasound exam, kind of like human females do at the hospital. It's more expensive on a cow scale, but still a lot less than the human exam. It can pinpoint the pending birthdate and tell you if the calf requires a baby blue or pink eartag.

A friend of mine ultrasounds cattle and has performed at least one human ultrasound with his machine. He claims to have bested the hospital technician in accurately predicting the baby's sex, and I'm fairly certain he had a lower copay for the procedure.

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Another friend claims he's seen a fellow witch for bovine pregnancy, just like finding a well site with a water witching rod of some kind. I'm skeptical, but I'm sure if a herd usually runs 90 percent bred, the pregnancy witcher can call nine out of 10 of them right.

Reputation preg check

I may be able to forget the palpation and call the cows bred or open based solely on their demeanor and reputation.

I'm not too proud to admit that there're a few cows in my herd with some attitude problems, especially after they've calved and I'm attempting to do a little animal identification on the baby.

Every time I'd see a cow come into the chute who charged my horse or chased me up a tree, over a fence or into the box of the pickup during calving season, I'd kind of hope for her to be open. But no way. Every mean, rotten cow on the place was bred right on schedule.

On the contrary, when a nice, little mama cow who'd let you scratch her ears while you tagged her calf came through the chute, she'd test open just to make room in the herd for an ill-tempered replacement heifer raised by the mean cow.

I'm not sure why this happens. Maybe nice girls do finish last in the breeding pasture. Or the bulls prefer a cow with a bad attitude. I think that was a subject once on "Dr. Phil."

At any rate, pondering the random role of attitude, age, body condition or the year's weather on the cows that are bred or open gives the crew something to visit about while they're working the cows.

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Funny how conducive the PG process is to visiting with one fella in a plastic glove covered with manure, one moving cows up the alley covered with a little less manure and a third guy with the relatively clean job of running the headgate. But to hear them visit, you'd think they were in a downtown coffee shop.

Sometimes the visiting is so good you kind of hate to run out of cows.

Some slow technology might improve the social aspect of the task. If they could make those home pregnancy tests a little more economical and the cows would pee on cue, the crew could pull up a table by the chute, deal a game of cards and have 10 minutes per cow to chat while everyone waits for those two pink lines to appear.

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