Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
Beef Improvement Federation Research Symposium and Convention
June 22-25, 2021 • Iowa Event Center • Des Moines, Iowa

Ultrasound Equipment: New vs. Old

New-generation ultrasound equipment deserves user confidence.

DES MOINES, IOWA (June 24, 2021) — Resistance to change is the unwillingness to adapt to altered circumstances. West Texas A&M University Animal Scientist Tommy Perkins believes circumstances have changed such that new-generation ultrasound equipment should be embraced by the beef industry and technicians involved with the scanning and interpretation of ultrasound measurements of body composition in live cattle.

During the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium & Convention hosted June 22-25 in Des Moines, Iowa, Perkins reviewed the timeline for development of ultrasound equipment and the training and certification of ultrasound technicians. He noted the wide range of equipment currently used, ranging from Aloka machines, first marketed in the 1960s, to machines representing the newest technology.

Perkins allowed that Aloka technology has long represented the “gold standard” for ultrasound equipment. However, recent testing of technicians and machines, by the Ultrasound Guidelines Council, revealed a 33% fail rate for technicians using old Aloka machines. In Perkins opinion, the old technology, which is no longer manufactured, should be considered obsolete.

“If you can’t get them repaired and you can’t buy a new one, why would we want to keep using that kind of unit?” asked Perkins.

Describing a research experiment, Perkins explained how two technicians used the old and new technologies to scan the same set of 68 steers. The technicians scanned the steers, one using an Aloka unit and the other using an EVO machine representing newer technology. The technicians traded equipment when the steers were scanned a second time. All ultrasound measurements of body composition were compared, with actual carcass data collected at harvest. According to Perkins, while the EVO machine seemed to estimate cattle as slightly fatter, there were no significant differences in scan results.

“Breeders should not be afraid of using the new technology as we move away from the old gold standard,” opined Perkins, stating his belief that new-generation equipment will be “the wave of the future.”

Perkins also reminded seedstock breeders that technician proficiency is important. “Training matters,” he said, adding, “Be careful when hiring a technician.”

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