Here are a few clips from the goat ultrasound training courses held at the 2023 ADGA Convention. We have picked a some topics to benefit total beginners, and a few for more advanced users. You can view all of the topics we cover on our full course here.

 

Probe & frequency choice

Do you understand the relationship between ultrasound frequency and image quality? If not, watch the video below!

 

When it comes to your probe selection, it’s unfortunately not as simple as “convex vs microconvex.” Even within probe types, not all probes are created equal. Just some of the components inside your transducer that affect quality are:

  • Dampening layer – this keeps your pulse length short and resolution (image quality) high
  • Matching later – this means less of your signal is lost leaving your probe, and improves sensitivity
  • Crystal number and quality – just like single origin coffee, you can get single crystal probes; or you can get cheaper probes made up of crystals from a jumble of sources that may not all resonate at precisely the same frequency. This can result in wavelengths interacting with each other in ways that degrades your ultrasound picture.

Remember:

  • Your probe is the most valuable part of your ultrasound system
  • Probes are not interchangeable between models
  • A convex probe from a $1200 system is going to be very different to a convex probe from a $4000 system!

A little known secret is that, the better your ultrasound system, the more versatile your probe. On a $1500 system with a convex probe for scanning sheep, I would need to invest ~$1000 in a second probe to scan dogs and cats, turning my $1500 machine into a $2500 machine. But on my much more expensive Apogee 1000 Lite (around $4800 with trade-in of a ScanPad), I can scan everything from guinea pigs to alpacas using just my microconvex probe. I can certainly cover every breed of dairy goat. The quality of the probe is such that it still gives better quality images on larger animals than a convex probe on a lower-end system, even when equipped with a ‘suboptimal’ probe choice for the species I am scanning.

Of course, not everyone can spend thousands of dollars on their first scanner, and the decision-making process can be very stressful when you know you cannot afford to make a mistake. Choosing an ultrasound machine and probe is made even more confusing by the fact that the relationship between price and quality is skewed by the fact that ultrasound equipment is now in the hands of hundreds of unknown resellers and marketing agencies, not ultrasound professionals, with more reasons besides simply ‘making a sale’ to find you the right machine.

It’s no secret that companies pumping thousands of dollars into Facebook advertising have a tendency to over-exaggerate the capabilities of their machines. As one example, Butterfly iQ, a human ultrasound system which failed to make profit, desperately pushed at the veterinary market despite zero R&D in the product for animal use.

It has also become common practice among unknown sellers on Facebook to digitally superimpose images onto scanners to make it look as though that scanner produced the image you are being shown, only for you to get the machine in your hands and wonder why you’re not able to get much more than fuzz.

I was reading the one of the Harvard Business Review books on the flight back to London, and there’s a survey in there which shows that only 36% of Americans now trust what they see online – it’s not difficult to see why! So before sinking $1000 into a made up brand name on Amazon or Facebook that didn’t even exist last year, ask yourself: do I really trust that this random, unproven company has my farm’s best interests at heart? Do I believe that they are presenting me with an honest picture of their product? Do I have faith in their warranty and ability to support me? If not, might it be worth holding off on buying that scanner until I can afford one from a company I actually want to do business with? Great scanners start at $1380 so you may not have to save for as long as you think.

 

Probe placement

Traditionally, the ultrasound transducer is placed under the right hind leg, but you need to be adaptable! In later gestation, you may obtain a better perspective from the left hand side, and in early gestation, pregnancy confirmation can be particularly difficult in first fresheners. In first time mothers, the uterus may still be held very high in the body, meaning the probe also needs to be positioned higher up the body and angled towards the spine.

 

Calculating fetal heart rate

Fetal heart rate (HR) can be used to estimate gestational age. Unless you are a veterinarian, using fetal HR to check for fetal distress is something that should only be done with your own goats. In most US States and Canadian provinces, making a judgement on fetal health on somebody else’s animal would be considered an act of veterinary medicine.

The ScanX, ScanPad and Elite 5600 can all be used to calculate fetal heart rate using M-mode. See how to activate M-mode on the Elite 5600 here:

 

Watch a demonstration on the ScanX here:

 

Dynamic range

Once people have mastered gain, depth and frequency, they often begin wondering about some of the other controls on their ultrasound systems. Here’s a walk through just one of these in a couple of short excerpts from our new online course, shown once with an entry-level system (the Elite 5600), and once with a high-end ultrasound machine.

 

Doppler ultrasound

The Apogee 1000 Lite has both color flow and pulse wave Doppler, and at the ADGA Convention we had a chance to practice this indoors before going out to the goats. Fetal heart rate can also be calculated using Doppler, and turning on color in order to see blood flowing through the fetal heart can make catching it with your pulse wave Doppler gate a lot easier.

The latest ScanPad also has PW Doppler as standard. If you’d like to learn how to use this, come along to our free webinar on the 22nd of February.

 

Is your machine holding you back?

Trade-in any ultrasound machine for money off one of our systems, even if your current system was not originally purchased from us. Contact us for pricing now.

Due an upgrade? Many of you have been using your trusty ScanPads for over 6 years, which feels unreal to me as I remember most of you making your first ultrasound investment like it was yesterday. I saw Jena at the Spotlight Sale in October and it dawned on me that she’s been using her ScanPad for coming up to 9 years now.

If you’d like to take the leap into color Doppler (being able to show blood flow on your screen), pulsed wave Doppler to look at fetal heartbeats and umbilical flow, or just fancy outstanding image quality, the Apogee 1000 Lite might be the next logical step for you. If you already own a ScanPad, this upgrade might not be as expensive as you may think.

Even if you have a machine from a different manufacturer (such as the little Contec laptop system), we can upgrade you any time. Contact us for a valuation on your current system so you can figure out how much you’d need to take your skills further.

 

Ultrasound for pregnancy detection in goats: click here for further training