Introduction to Bovine Palpation Laboratory
Goal - To introduce the students to the basic techniques of reproductive examinations of the cow.


  • Report to Slab North of SVM
  • Introduce you to palpation per rectum and ultrasound in the cow.
  • These two labs will not make you proficient! You will need to take advanced bovine reproduction and practice in the clinics to become proficient.
  • Clothing
  • Wear coveralls
  • Washable boots
  • The cows will be on the slab on the north side of the building. The cows should locked into stanchions when you get there.
    Care around cows
  • The cows may kick, so be careful.
  • Make sure the cows know you are there.
  • Keep a hand on the cows if possible
  • Dr. Eilts does not like to hold the cow's tail, as he feels it makes the cows more nervous.
  • Use plastic sleeves.
  • You can do the whole lab with 1-2 sleeves....there is no need to change between cows.
  • Sleeve holders are a help to hold sleeves up.
  • Hemostats work also, as well as clothes pins and garters.
    Rectal Entry
  • You should learn to palpate with the opposite hand with which you write (right handed people should palpate left handed and vice versa)
  • Use plenty of lube at all times.
  • Put 1 finger in the rectum, pull in out then cone the fingers to enter your hand into the rectum.
  • Make a fist and drive your hand under as much manure as possible.
  • Clean out as much manure as you need, but do not take your hand out ot the rectum or you will create a pneumorectum.
  • If the cow has a pneumorectum, reach in and grasp the most cranial rectal ring and try to tease the ring and air back.
    Retracting the Uterus
  • Retraction of the uterus is the key to early pregnancy diagnosis.
  • If the uterus is retracted, palpation of the horns and ovaries is relatively easy and a traumatic.
  • You should retract every uterus that can be retracted!
  • It is imperative that you retract, because the uterus cannot be palpated a traumatically without being fully retracted.
  • Click on the movie icon, then right click on the movie or "Open It" and "OK" to see a transverse cutaway view a cow's uterus being retracted. (The view is inside the cow facing caudally, like this picture.)          

  • You can read about retraction as you wait for the movie to load.

    Click the icon to see a move on retraction.
  • Grasp the broad ligament on the side on which hand you palpate (left for left handlers). Pull back on the broad ligament to tip the ventral intercornual ligament back. The video shows a gradual manipulation of the horn to the the ventral intercornual ligament.....but this does not need to be done, you can move directly to the ventral intercornual ligament if you wish. Drive your hand under the ventral intercornual ligament and pull the uterus back. Flip the uterus back over itself.
  • When the uterus is retracted, it is easy to palpate both horns and the ovaries without fighting to 'hang on".
  • Make every move count to conserve as much energy as possible.



contributed by Bruce E Eilts on 23 August 2005


contributed by Bruce E Eilts on 25 September 2012


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