A survey of the reasons for culling pregnant cows

Vet Rec. 1995 Feb 18;136(7):162-5. doi: 10.1136/vr.136.7.162.


This survey analysed the history of cows which were pregnant when they were slaughtered at an abattoir in south west England by sending a questionnaire to their farm of origin to determine the reason(s) for culling them and their recent reproductive history. Of the slaughtered cows, 23.5 per cent were pregnant and 26.9 per cent of these were in the third trimester. The three main reasons for culling were infertility (28.2 per cent), mastitis (21.8 per cent) and old age (15.8 per cent). In 50.9 per cent of cases the farmer thought that the cow was not pregnant. In 66 per cent of the returns the cow had run with a bull. The average age of the slaughtered cows was 7.9 years. The records were categorised as 'OK' when they were consistent with the stage of pregnancy found post mortem, as 'error' when there were slight inconsistencies and 'gross error' when there were more serious discrepancies. Thirty-six per cent of the returns were classed as 'OK', 56.6 per cent as 'error' and 27.2 per cent as 'gross error'. It is estimated that these errors represent an annual loss of 30.78 million pounds to the cattle industry of the United Kingdom.

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs*
  • Animal Husbandry / statistics & numerical data
  • Animals
  • Cattle / physiology*
  • Cattle Diseases / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Incidence
  • Infertility, Female / physiopathology
  • Infertility, Female / veterinary
  • Life Expectancy
  • Mastitis, Bovine / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*