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Posted: 07/06/2022
A row of dairy cows inside a barn, and row of Angus cows inside a barn

Pregnancy Testing Cows Has Never Been Easier

Attention cattle producers! If you dread the process – and the expense – for determining the pregnancy status of breeding females in your herd, we’ve got great news for you. The IDEXX Alertys OnFarm Pregnancy Test is a complete game-changer. This straightforward blood test is easy to use within your facility and requires no extra training. It’s quick and affordable, and delivers reliable results for you to make real-time management decisions.

We know that early pregnancy testing gives you more opportunity and more time. We’ve got plenty of customer reviews to share, but let’s compare Alertys to current methods and see how the benefits speak for themselves.

Existing (and Intensive) Testing Methods

Each testing method comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at the different detection timeframes, training requirements, costs and results window for each.

Rectal Palpation

Rectal palpation is one of the most frequently used pregnancy testing methods for cattle. Producers are well aware that it requires lots of lube, armpit length gloves, and the proper training to know what to look for. With an experienced vet or tech performing the palpation, it’s possible to identify a pregnancy 35-45 days post breeding. However, it’s more likely to get an accurate assessment 50-60 days out. And if your trusted vet/tech isn’t available, the wait could be even longer. The benefits of utilizing rectal palpation to identify pregnancy include immediate results, and cost of approximately $5 less per cow compared to ultrasound.


This slightly less invasive procedure also produces immediate results, but ultrasound can do more than confirm a pregnancy – it may provide health information on open cows, too. Producers use an ultrasound as early as 28 days to detect pregnancy and sort cows based on calf age. If performed 55-80 days post breeding, the technician will be able to identify the sex of the calf as well. As one of the more informative early pregnancy diagnostic tools available, ultrasound is more expensive than any other method and scheduling can be a challenge in some areas.

Blood Test

Protein-based blood pregnancy tests are highly accurate and can be collected by the ranchers themselves 28 days after breeding. Other than the collection tubes and a syringe, there’s no special equipment required. It’s a far less invasive procedure than the other methods described above. Scheduling is more flexible, too, as producers can pull samples over a few days time and ship them out together. Unfortunately,  producers must wait about four days for results from the lab, and they won’t determine the age or sex of the fetus. On top of that, samples must be collected 90 days or more post-calving or they could deliver false positives (especially with late calving followed by early testing). These test kits are by far the most economical of all the methods, but time is money, too.

Alertys package

Alertys Makes it Easy

Alertys OnFarm Pregnancy Tests are the first of their kind to make it easy for producers to run reliable, rapid tests directly at their facility. In just five steps, you’ll have the results you need to move forward. Simply gather a blood sample from under the cow’s tail, dispense drops of the sample onto the test device, add the provided solution, and wait for results.

Here’s how Alertys beats the other testing methods:

  • Detection: as early as 28 days post breeding and 70 days post calving
  • Training: none!
  • Cost: about $8 per test
  • Results: 20 minutes
  • Scheduling: test on your timeline – no more waiting for the vet
The tests use a blood sample to detect glycoproteins (PAGs) instead of progesterone levels which are likely to fluctuate during a cycle. Cows only produce PAGs when an embryo or fetus is present. So you can test with confidence using the Alertys kit right on your premise. 

Test Kit Components

PBS Animal Health sells the pregnancy tests in a pack of 25 and now offers individual tests for added convenience for smaller operations. Each individual test pouch contains a testing device/cartridge, a pipette and a single-use wash solution. Be sure to purchase blood collection tubes, holders and needles/syringes separately.

Alertys test results examples

Get Results without Required Training

Unlike ultrasounds and palpation, Alertys tests don’t require special expertise or in-depth training, and you won’t have to wait on a vet or other technician to perform the test for you. Many producers have collected cow blood samples for lab tests before, so if you’ve done that, these on-the-farm tests are even more of a breeze. If not, it’s still user friendly with Alertys’ quick how-to video that details instructions for drawing the sample.

After 20 minutes of processing, read the results to see if the animal is pregnant. A pink or red test line (T) indicates pregnancy (a positive result). No test line appears if the animal is open (a negative result).

PBS Animal Health customer reviews show just how welcome this new technology is:

“Super straightforward with quick results. I usually send blood samples to a lab in a neighboring state, but when you want to confirm a cow quickly these tests can't be beat.”

“Where have you been all my life?! The Alertys test system is simple and easy, with clear results. The test line can appear faint relative to the control [line], but it is clearly there, or not.”

“This is a stress-free way to check … No vet needed and the cost per cattle is less than $8 per head!"

What About Embryo Transfer?

IDEXX guidelines call for a 28-day waiting period post-breeding before using Alertys to check for pregnancy with an embryo transfer (ET). This typical restriction for blood tests has to do with the development of the placenta and certain cells migrating across the placental/uterine interface. When transferring an embryo, the breeding date is on average about 7 days prior to the ET so that’s when the clock starts running, not on implantation day. PAGs in an ET recipient show up 21 days post implantation (7 + 21 = 28 days). Because ETs are usually performed with high-value animals, multiple pregnancy tests over time are highly recommended regardless of the test result.

Save Time and Money with Alertys from PBS Animal Health

Controlling when and where you test for pregnancy gives you strategic herd management opportunities. Get affordable, accurate, animal-side testing when you need it. Order your Alertys OnFarm Pregnancy Test now.

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