How to tell your cow is pregnant

A pigs Spring at one barn  …

Is a cat’s Winter at another.

Cows are pregnant for nine months and one week. Though some breeds are a bit longer and we can go early and late. So the date is really only a suggestion.


Look at Carlos the Tiny – the Dexter bull. He is turning into a magnificent animal.  He is on a pregnant cows diet too which is quite lean.

So, how to tell your cow is pregnant in the absence of blood tests and ultra sounds. Let’s do some comparisons. Above is Aunty Del from behind. We know she is not pregnant so she is our Control.  Though this is not an experiment it is nice to have a cow we know for sure is empty.

A cow will carry her calf slightly out to one side, usually stage right. Creating the b shape.

Do you remember ‘b’ for baby and g’ for grass. (though the g in this font is not exactly the right shape: you can draw a school girl  ‘g’  in your mind).

Lady Astor. I have positioned myself central to her tail. And we have to be careful of the optical illusion created by her white stripe.  But when I flick up to Aunty and down to Lady. I get a real sense of a ‘b’ for baby.

I am about 60% sure.

I will be 100% sure when I see an udder or if baby taps me back!

She was bred with a straw so we have a definite date for her of May 10.  I bumped her belly and no-one tapped back but she still has eight weeks to go and if there is a baby in there I think he is small. To bump her give her a good thump on the lower half of her ‘b’ side then hold your hand there, hopefully you will feel the calf kick almost immediately.  They also say to bump up high in the dip in front of the hip bones. I have had more luck further down.

This only works sometimes and only in the later half of the third trimester.   It might be a bit early  or she may be empty. We will see.

Aunty Anna is above. She is a lovely dainty heifer – a Hereford- Shorthorn cross.  If she is pregnant she might be due June 10.  This is to the last date we saw her bred. But they do it in the dark as well you know so  I cannot be sure.   I do not expect to see any signs of pregnancy yet.  Of course that does not stop me looking.  She has no bump and so sign of an udder beginning as expected.  She will not let me get behind her for a good shot of her belly.

She is such a skittish cow. If she does have a calf I will not milk her – I think she would take my head off. But she might be a good mother.  She has June 19 written next to her name. This is only a possible date and Carlos the Tiny is as yet unproven.

Of course none of these observations are guarantees of a pregnancy or the lack of one. But I don’t mind waiting and seeing. Getting a vet out here won’t change the outcome.

Geraldine trying to hitch a ride on the truck.

And here we have a rubbish shot of Alex. Straight into the sun but she seldom lets me stand directly behind her.  She does look like she has a baby bump but she is always a bit barrel shaped and her date says late May – early June. But I have a feeling she may go earlier. Once again this is if Carlos is fertile.  No sign of change in her udder.

A cow (as opposed to a heifer) has already grown her udder in a previous pregnancy, so changes in the udder (filling up with milk) will come later in her pregnancy. A heifer has to literally grow her udder from scratch, so sometimes those changes will start earlier in a pregnancy.

Aunty Anna is our only heifer this year.

It is a guessing game at this point.And these are just the things I watch for. Other farmers will have other ways.  But I don’t mind if they are pregnant or not.  Whatever is done is done.  If Carlos is a viable bull we will have two more calves by June. If not – decisions will be made.

Lady is looking hopeful.

Observe your cow often – then you will see any changes. Know your cow.

I hope you have a lovely day. It is raining already this morning. We are at 35F already and aiming for 48F today. Hopefully the rain is only this morning as I have feed to buy.

Have a lovely day.


ps. Of course  (and thank you Faye) the most obvious sign is whether your cow comes into heat again. Having a bull around is useful for this one.


47 Comments on “How to tell your cow is pregnant

  1. Sure looks like you will be milking Lady A this year 🙂 Lovely to see you, and the animals, back on the Farmy again. Laura

  2. all this talk of cows and pregnancy makes me feel quite broody…which is not good considering i am 78….I will go and make a cuppa tea  

    Sent: Friday, March 17, 2017 at 1:42 PM

  3. It’s good that you can observe and accept. I had to laugh at this, ‘Getting a vet out here won’t change the outcome.’ No indeed, it won’t, so may aa well just watch and wait. It looks like Olive Oil is getting bigger, so it’s not so much of a guessing game now! Not 100% sure yet, but almost! 🙂

  4. Aw spring pregnancies…. And you will have piglets hopefully before calves. So – a friend had a male peacock adopt them this week. He came by for some of the dog and cat food and decided to stay. So they have got some good grain from the local feed store and are now enjoying his calls. His female has not been seen, but they hear her answering not far away. But they have so many oak trees in the area that she has great cover and nesting spots galore! But you mentioned Geraldine trying to hitch a ride – this peacock has been all over their truck and they were 1/2 way down the drive way when he flew out of the bed! Silly birds!

  5. You can also watch their heat cycle and pay attention to if Carlos is interested in said cows at ‘heat’ time. That is often a tip off of whether someone is pre go or not. mind you your research is much more interesting to listen to.

    • She has not cycled in since she was bred – you are right I forgot to mention that! Being the most obvious sign. Carlos is only ever interested in Del and not much of that lately either but I have been away and not here to see any consistent signs.

  6. Now I’m going to be looking at all cows to see if they have a baby bump! Thank you for this! It’s very educational!

  7. The b and g is a genius way to remember what to check for. I’m sure there are many other farmer’s adages that are simple and true. I wonder if there is a compilation of them somewhere. The farmer’s almanac? Have a good day C.

  8. The difference between Auntie Del’s bump and Lady Aster’s bump is really significant. I was peering at Auntie Del and thinking to myself if she’s the control and you know she’s empty then it must be confusing because I see a small bulging there on the right side… and then I slipped down to Lady Aster and — WOW, what a difference. She’s huge!
    Too bad Aunty Anna is so skittish. She’s really a pretty cow, as cows go. I love her colouring. If her udder was full and stretched with milk, you still think she’s have a fit if you tried to milk her? New chicks, expected new piggies and now calves… farms are a real place for hope and renewal, aren’t they. Hope you have a lovely day too ~ Mame 🙂

  9. Ahhh ~ my cowsies!! luv ’em!! and all the different breeds!! enjoyed these pictures today!! And TonTon on guard!! and Kitty watching the cows waiting on some warm milk!!! Have a good day Celi!!

  10. I can never stop wondering what TonTon thinks of looking at all these cows. I just can’t.

  11. I thought a previous post said it was a p or a g. Either way – p or b – it works and she looks pregnant. I am surprised you don’t get a kick when feeling around for a baby. Your herd continues to grow.

  12. Maybe it’s because I’m a dairy farmer’s granddaughter I like cows, Pa’s last two milking cows Strawberry & Blue, are part of some of my earliest memories. While I was waiting for the G.O. to come out of his knee op last week, I went for a walk looking for a cat to pat to pass the time but found a paddock of 3 jersey cows so patted & fed one of them handfuls of grass instead. I love this soothing, wholesome conversation around cows and the pics ♡

  13. Fingers crossed for healthy calves in the spring. I hope Carlos the Tiny is studly. Decisions otherwise might be difficult. You have a handsome herd to enjoy.

  14. Aunt Anna doesn’t seem happy that you are talking about her private life. She’s making her eyes small and hard. But at least you are not talking behind her back.

  15. I learn so much here. I suppose one doesn’t just ask ‘are you pregnant’ as that would be rude.

  16. Pingback: Getting To Know You | Minimalist Grandma

  17. Whether it’s “Know yourself” or “Know your cow”, the advice is well-taken.
    Seeing this post’s title gave me pause. That TV show featuring a vet in Michigan is often about determining whether a dairy herd’s cows are pregnant. The Doc, however, uses a, shall we say, much more personal method of determining whether she’s carrying a calf. I must admit to being a little relieved that you’re relying upon other means. Then again, if you did follow the Doc’s methods, however would you take a photo? If you have a telephoto lens, I’ll snap it for you but from across a field. 🙂

  18. Ah, the Farmer’s Almanac! My grandpa’s bible for running his farm, and SO much fun to read! Hee! Take care of those woolly bullies and dainty ladies!

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