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Stick, send, see

Celina’s PMI BioPharma Solutions delivers quick, convenient option for pregnancy testing livestock, small ruminants
Story and photos by: Chris Villines 1/27/2020

 

At PMI BioPharma Solutions in Celina, Research Associate III Crystal West, left, reviews the results of a BioPRYN livestock pregnancy test with Dr. Alexander Taylor, the Nashville-based company’s vice president, research services. PMI BioPharma is the only lab in Tennessee certified by BioTracking, the company which created BioPRYN, to perform this testing.
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There’s only one city in Tennessee where you’ll find a lab licensed to perform BioPRYN protein-based blood pregnancy testing on cattle, sheep, goats, and bison.

Memphis? Nashville? Knoxville?

Chattanooga?

No, no, no, and no.

It’s Celina.

Yes, the small Clay County hamlet

that’s the gateway to Dale Hollow Lake is also the location of PMI BioPharma Solutions labs. Company headquarters are in Nashville.

PMI BioPharma Solutions is one of 58 affiliate labs in the U.S. and internationally under the umbrella of BioTracking, a Moscow, Idaho-based company founded in 1992 by Drs. Garth and Nancy Sasser to develop and market the BioPRYN test (PRYN meaning Pregnancy. Ruminant. Yes. No.). Results have proven to be 99 percent accurate when calling an animal “open” and 95 percent accurate when a “pregnant” call is made.

“We became a certified lab in early May of 2017,” says Crystal West, Research Associate III at the Celina location. “We had to perform several tests for [BioTracking] before becoming certified. Slowly but surely, we’ve been gaining business by word of mouth.”

Crystal says the BioPRYN test is a convenient, non-invasive alternative to palpation and ultrasound pregnancy evaluation that provides accurate and cost-efficient results from a blood sample. The test itself is an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) that evaluates a serum or plasma sample for the presence of the pregnancy-specific protein B (PSPB). PSPB is only produced by the placenta of an animal with a growing fetus.

PSPB concentrations can be accurately measured in blood within the following days post-breeding: 28 in adult cows, 25 in heifers, 30 in goat/sheep, and 40 in bison. Animals must be at least 73 days post-calving.

For $3/head on cattle (bison are $5/head, goats and sheep $6.50/head), a producer collects 2 milliliters of blood in a plain red-top tube for each animal to be tested, then sends via UPS, FedEx, or mail to PMI BioPharma in Celina. Full instructions on packaging samples, along with a submission form, are found at www.pmibio.com/additional-

services/biopryn-pregnancy-testing.

“The maximum turnaround time from when we receive samples to when a farmer gets results is 72 hours,” Crystal says. “Our goal is to get reliable results to them quickly so they can separate herds and know which animals are bred, which are open, and which need to be bred back or sold.”

Results are typically sent to the email address listed on the customer’s submission form.

Brian Gilliam, general manager of Ag1 Farmers Cooperative, uses PMI BioPharma Solutions to perform BioPRYN testing on his own cattle herd. He says having the lab close by helps fill a need for local farmers.

“Before, I was sending blood samples all the way to Moscow, Idaho,” Brian says. “Now we’ve got quick, local access. I can pull blood one evening, drop it in the mail, and know the results in a couple of days. It’s real convenient, and we’ve referred several folks their way at the Co-op.”

With a high-volume breeding program in place, Nick Sparkman, who operates Sparta’s Sparkman Dairy along with father Johnny and brother Tyler, says the BioPRYN test provides an “easy and convenient” means of pregnancy checking.

“Every Monday, we pull blood samples and ship them [to BioPharma],” says Nick, a member of White County Farmers Cooperative. “I just sent 64 samples. We went to timed AI about three years ago, so we’ve already got the cows locked. It’s convenient to just pull the blood yourself and utilize the vet in other ways, like if you have a cow that has trouble breeding.”

At Farmington Angus Farms in Normandy, farm manager Kevin Perkins utilizes BioPharma to BioPRYN-test both the registered and commercial herds.

“At $3 a sample, it just makes sense to use the blood test to tell you whether a cow is pregnant or not,” says Kevin, who lists Coffee, Bedford, and Rutherford as Co-ops frequented by Farmington. “It’s a lot easier and more cost effective than an ultrasound, and it allows our vet to concentrate on working with problem cows. I’m very happy with how convenient it is to send samples [to PMI BioPharma] and how fast they get the results back to me.”

Additionally, PMI BioPharma offers two other tests related to animal health: Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus (BVDV) and Ovine Progressive Pneumonia (OPP)/Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE). OPP infects sheep starting at age 2-4+, while CAE is a chronic disease of goats.

Crystal, who works with a team of six lab technicians at the Celina facility, says providing top-notch, personalized customer service is at the heart of the business.

“If customers have questions about our lab or the test itself, they can call and talk directly to me or someone else here, and we’ll do our best to help,” she says. “I enjoy being able to communicate with clients. If there are questions as to why an animal isn’t pregnant, call your vet. That’s why we rely on them, especially for their expertise on reproduction.”

For more information on PMI BioPharma Solutions, visit www.pmibio.com. To learn more about BioPRYN pregnancy testing, go to www.biopryn.com.

 
 
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