Becoming a good ultrasounder is all about reading the details amidst the shades of grey. Training your eye to know what “normal” is, will be quite helpful. If you learn what a standard or normal image looks like, you will be able to determine a variation. Ultrasounding takes some effort to learn. The natural progression is pregnant/open determinationàfetal agingàfetal sexing and detailed ovarian exams. Confirming pregnancies is simple and can be learned quite quickly for most. Basic fetal aging is a natural progression shortly after pregnant/open status. Fetal sexing and advanced ovarian exams take a lot more time and number of cattle scanned to learn.
A great illustration of training your eye was in a group of heifers the other day: they were all between 60 and 120 days along. We came across a fetus that appeared to be about 70 days, but something was odd. Taking a couple extra seconds to be thorough in our ultrasounding helped determine that there was not enough fluid associated with the pregnancy and no fetal heartbeat. This, in turn, helped us determine that she was in the process of reabsorbing the pregnancy and would not carry the calf to term.
Training courses can be quite helpful to train your eye. We spend a lot of time going through videos and images to help you learn what is normal. This can be valuable, particularly with open tracts. It takes time to train your eye to pick up the cross sections of the open uterus. Knowing where to look, and what texture to look for can greatly cut down your time in-cow.