Rectal palpation is the cheapest and most convenient method of pregnancy testing cattle. Using this method, veterinary practitioners can identify pregnant cows as early as six weeks after conception. They feel for the calf, a pulse in the artery supplying blood to the uterus, the shape of the cow's uterus and placental structures.
Pregnancy testing is normally carried out 8-10 weeks after the end of mating. Cows need to be restrained in a race; it is not necessary to head bail each one. In well designed yards and with labour provided to keep cattle moving into the race, up to 60 cows can be pregnancy-tested per hour.