Biotracking Moxie

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Yesterday my wonderful friend Alison came to the barn and took a blood sample from the underside of the tail of my Jersey cow, Moxie. Alison is a nurse and the sort of brisk and irrepressibly cheerful person who remains completely unfazed when a patient nervously evacuates its bowels on her shoes.

“This is such fun!” she exclaimed, deftly maneuvering the needle.

On Monday I will send the blood sample to a lab in Pennsylvania and find out if Moxie is pregnant. For $2.50 they’ll run the test and email me the results.

I’ve now discovered so many mistakes I made in the chaos of last year that I will not be surprised if Moxie is open (not pregnant). It will be all of a piece with the rest of my fumbling.

However the challenge in Moxie’s case I had anticipated. Due to fixed slaughterhouse schedules, my bull Opie had to go to slaughter at only eleven months old. It’s quite possible that he was not yet fertile at those times when Moxie was in heat and he was enthusiastically breeding her. (It’s a farming truism that when you want your animal bred, your male will be a late bloomer, and when you don’t want your animal bred, the male will be potent at six months old.) I had mentioned my concern to my vet. David snorted, and pointed out Opie’s big, wide head and handsome frame. “Don’t insult him so! He’s a beauty!”

We shall see.

Biotracking is a fabulous development of the last twenty years. As a test it is cheap ($2.50 vs. $75 farm call for the vet), non-invasive (a needle prick vs. an internal palpation), and quick (can be done after one month rather than three). I should have the results on Moxie by next week. Knowing if she is pregnant or not will help me make smart decisions about Moxie’s feeding and care this spring.

Thank you, Alison!

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