Dairy & Beef Cattle

The Gympie Vet Services team of cattle and mixed practice vets provide ambulatory emergency care 24 hours a day for dairy and beef cattle farmers across the region. We pride ourselves on our preventative medicine focus, and our vets are encouraged to develop an in depth understanding our our clients’ farming operations so that they become an integral part of the farm’s management team.

Cattle Reproduction

To ensure ongoing herd productivity, in any beef cattle enterprise, continual identification of unproductive stock, is essential to ensure ongoing herd productivity. Implementing annual pregnancy testing is a process to ensure only reproductively sound animals in your herd.

Benefits of Pregnancy Testing

Pregnancy testing will allow you to accurately identify pregnant cows and will also identify unproductive females within the herd. Following the rectal palpation, our veterinarian can often give you an approximate foetal age and likely calving date.

Pregnancy testing will aid you the producer, in managing your calving distribution and also assist in general herd control by helping to utilise periods of high pasture availability, produce early maturing replacement cattle within the herd and gain the economic benefits at time of sale of uniform weights. Infertility issues, disease as well as management problems that can affect the entire herd can be identified earlier thus reducing many adverse economic impact.

Why Pregnancy Test

Non-pregnant cows are unproductive and should be removed from the herd. Pregnancy testing is a cheap and convenient method of identifying empty cows at an early stage. Pregnancy testing can also identify herd fertility problems, enabling earlier investigation and action than would otherwise be possible. It is an essential process to implement into your annual herd management system so reap the rewards and get your herd tested this year.

Contact us to book in your pregnancy testing this season!

How accurate is pregnancy testing?
As long as the cow is far enough in calf, we can tell you if the cow is pregnant or not.
Why pregnancy test early?
Whilst we can tell you yes (pregnant) or no (not pregnant or empty) later on, to efficiently run your dairy farm, you need to know what stage of gestation the cows are.


The further in calf a cow, the harder it is to be accurate about how far pregnant she is:
> From 6 to 16 weeks of pregnancy we are very accurate.
> Above 16 weeks, the accuracy is reduced.

When should I pregnancy test my herd?

Generally, the most convenient time for handling cows is at weaning and pregnancy testing can easily be organised to coincide with this. Ideally cows should be pregnancy tested at least eight weeks after the bulls are taken out and before the dry season (Feb- April), where pasture availability will be low.

To get the most information try to present cows for preg testing when they are between 6 and 16 weeks pregnant.

The minimum number of preg. tests should be:
> Test 6 to 7 weeks after the end of AI.
> Test 6 to 7 weeks after the bull is removed.

What can I do to help with pregnancy testing?
Good facilities are quicker, safer and less stressful. Talk to us about the design of a vet (AI) race or stand for a rotary if you do not have one.


A list of AI dates converted to the number of weeks pregnant at the time of preg testing optimizes pregnancy testing accuracy. Cow identification needs to be accurate, easy to read, not have 2 or more cows with the same identification and not have cows with no identification.

The pregnancy testing results need to be recorded accurately. Recording results is not an easy job – the person doing that job cannot do other jobs. If the cow identification is difficult to read, then the recorders job is more difficult. If you do not have a spare person to record results, let us know and we can bring an extra person to record.

How can I make more use of my pregnancy test results?
As well as deciding empty cows, knowing when cows are going to calve lets you plan for the next season.

Some things you do with your information include:

Planning inductions
Inducing late cows 10-12 weeks prior to their expected calving dates gives the best chance of bringing these cows in line with those calving to A.I. and therefore tightening up the calving period.

Cull empty cows 
Knowing how many empty cows you have allows you to calculate how many other cows you can afford to cull.

Formulate a feed budget
A feed budget is an accurate assessment of the herd’s future feed requirements compared to feed availability. An accurate predicted calving pattern is required for the calculation of a feed budget.

Benchmark your Results
You have spent a lot of money on joining your cows – how do your results compare? A danger in talking about figures with other farmers is that you are often comparing apples with oranges. For example comparing how many empty cows you have compared to another farm is meaningless, if you joined for 10 weeks and they joined for 20 weeks.

Bull Fertility

Gympie Vet Services provide a comprehensive service to monitor the performance of bulls in both Beef and Dairy herds.

Our large animal vets can carry out a comprehensive Bull Soundness Examination aimed at finding sub-fertile bulls. This includes a full physical examination, serving ability test (as necessary) and semen evaluation. The semen evaluation is initially a microscopic, crush-side examination for motility and concentration followed by laboratory assessment of semen morphology.

Testing of your bulls 1-2 months prior to joining is a good way for both Dairy and Beef herds to minimise sub-optimal performance. In doing so, it gives confidence in the management of the bull power necessary for good reproductive performance.

Calving Cows

The normal gestation length of a cow can range from 279 – 288 days.
The normal progression of the calving process involves 3 stages of labour.

First Stage
The 1st stage is when the cervix is starting to dilate and uterine contractions become regular. This leads to signs of discomfort, mild colic and restlessness. The cow will show this by getting up and down frequently, standing with an arched back, holding her tail raised and may have increased heart rate and respiratory rate.

Second Stage
The 2nd stage begins with the onset of abdominal contractions and rupture of foetal membranes, often seen as fluid spilling from the vagina. This stage ends when the foetus is born. The average duration of second stage labour is 70 minutes but can range from 30 minutes to 4 hours. This stage of labour is normally longer in heifers than in cows.

Consult your veterinarian if:

  • A cow close to her expected calving date has been restless for 12 hours (ie possibly in 1st stage labour) with no signs of straining.
  • A cow has been straining (ie in 2nd stage labour) for 1 hour without progress.

Third Stage
The 3rd stage of labour begins once the calf is born and ends when foetal membranes have been passed, in a cow this may last a couple of days.

There are many different causes for a cow not to make progress during calving such as a malpresented or oversized calf, foetal deformity, uterine torsion, or the cow’s inability to push. Our veterinarians are well trained to identify the problem, and provide the appropriate solution for you and your animal.


Calving Cows Program
Apiam Animal Health’s Calving Cows program:

  • Identifies risks in key management areas
  • Provides tailored farm medicine advice
  • Establishes specific written treatment protocols
  • Provides training for common periparturient diseases and perinatal conditions.

Flying Start Calf Management Program

Successful calf rearing requires attention to detail and balance across all the specific areas of a calf rearing system. Recognising this is the first step to ensure your calves stay healthy, grow well and reach their full genetic potential. There are no two herds the same and as a result, blanket recommendations are not always appropriate or relevant to your individual situation. The Flying Start Calf Management Program provides basic fundamental principles in each specific calf rearing area, to help lay the foundations for successfully rearing calves.

Areas covered are:

  • Pre-Calving Care
  • Colostrum Management
  • Health Management
  • Environment
  • Nutrition and Weaning

Bovine Ephemeral Fever

Bovine ephemeral fever (BEF), commonly known as three day sickness, is a disease of cattle and occasionally buffaloes, marked by short fever, shivering, lameness and muscular stiffness. Caused by an insect borne virus, the disease is widespread in northern Australia. It causes serious economic losses through deaths, loss of condition, decreased milk production, lowered fertility of bulls, mismothering of calves, delays in marketing and restrictions on the export of live cattle.


The Bovine Ephemeral Fever virus is the cause of BEF. The BEF virus is transmitted between cattle by flying insects. The transmitting insects (vectors) have not been definitely identified but it is thought that mosquitoes and biting midges (especially sandflies) are responsible. Spread of the disease depends on the season and weather conditions – rain and prevailing easterly and southerly winds are necessary for the survival and dispersal of the vectors which spread the virus. The National Arbovirus Monitoring Program (NAMP) monitors the spread of ephemeral fever virus within Australia. 
In most years, BEF cases start at the beginning of the wet season in northern Australia and then spread south and east down the east coast, into southern Queensland and central and coastal New South Wales. Occasionally, outbreaks will occur in northern Victoria.

Impact & Incidence

In northern Australia, older cattle generally have immunity from previous exposure to BEF, with introduced or young growing cattle being most susceptible to disease. Once exposed to the virus, cattle develop a long lasting immunity. Calves are relatively immune to ephemeral fever until they are about six months old.
Levels of herd immunity will vary depending on location of the herd relative to the normal distribution of BEF and prevailing seasonal conditions. Outbreaks of disease affecting cattle of all ages can occur at the end of a series of drought years or in herds on the southern fringes of the normal BEF distribution.

Clinical Signs

Typically, three stages of the disease are recognised. The acute febrile stage appears suddenly, especially noticeable in dairy cattle. Cattle show signs associated with a fever. Their rectal temperature will generally be over 40oC. Approximately 50% of sick animals shiver. Sick cattle will stand with their backs arched and heads held low with muzzles extended, drooling saliva. Often there is a discharge from the eyes and nostrils. Feeding and cud chewing stop and milk production, especially in dairy cows, is reduced.
The second stage is muscular stiffness and lameness in one or more limbs. Some degree of secondary bloat may also occur due to general inflammation of the abdominal cavity and ruminal stasis. The lameness may shift between limbs. Joints may be visibly swollen.
During the recovery stage, the great majority of affected animals resume eating and drinking. Animals may go down, with heavy animals in good condition being most affected. Some animals remain down due to muscle damage or damage to the spinal cord. Generally, about 1% die or are destroyed because they cannot get up, although this figure may be as high as 10%. Some animals that recover from ephemeral fever will have the staggers due to spinal cord damage. Pregnant cows may abort due to the high fever and heifers with young calves may mismother their calves.
Post mortem examination of cattle that die is important to rule out other acute febrile diseases that often occur under the same conditions as ephemeral fever and present in a similar manner, such as tick fever.


The diagnosis of ephemeral fever during epidemics is made on the presence of lameness, muscular stiffness, pain, rapid spread of the disease through herds and short fever. The BEF virus can often be identified from a blood sample taken from animals in the fever stage of the disease. Alternatively, two blood samples, the first obtained during the fever stage and the second fourteen days later can be examined for development of antibodies to ephemeral fever virus.

Treatment & prevention

A vaccine is registered for the prevention of BEF. It is only available through your veterinarian as it is a prescription only product. It is a two part vaccine, with freeze dried and liquid components that must be mixed prior to administration. Great care must be taken with this vaccine if the full benefit is to be obtained. Use all reconstituted product immediately. Ultravac BEF Vaccine must be stored between 2°C and 8°C (Refrigerate. Do Not Freeze). Protect from light.
Two injections of the vaccine 2 weeks to 6 months apart under the skin of the neck are necessary for long-lasting protection. Annual boosters are recommended. It is advisable to commence vaccination in the winter months so that cattle are fully immunised prior to summer rains.
The vaccine has provided good levels of protection against BEF. Field observations have shown that some vaccinated cattle can develop mild disease, however the severity and duration of illness is very much less than in unvaccinated cattle.
Treatment with anti-inflammatory drugs has been shown to reduce the course of the disease and calcium injections may aid animals that are down. Most animals will recover if provided with water and shade, however, in extensive management situations this is often impossible to provide.

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 Gympie Vet Services – Gympie

  • 2 Little Channon St Gympie QLD 4570
  • Monday – Friday 8.00 am – 5.30 pm
  • Saturday 8 am – 4 pm & Sunday 9 am – 12 pm
  • Telephone: 07 5482 2488
  • Email:
  • After hours emergency mobile 0409 708 526

Gympie Vet Services

 Gympie Vet Services – Tin Can Bay

  • 67 Gympie Road, Tin Can Bay, QLD 4580
  • Monday – Friday 9 am – 5 pm
  • Telephone: 07 5486 4666
  • Email:
  • After Hours Mobile: 0409 708 526

Tin Can Bay Veterinary Services