Are twin calves sterile?
Posted by grady hartley at 2006-08-07 13:14:06
My wife Cathy came home from our son's today and announced that she had found out that twin calves are born sterile and/or that they will not breed. I said that I have always heard that, but do not believe it, as I have never seen scientific proof that it is true. She insists that it is true. I disagree. Help us out on this, please. grady
Response by Vince Mautino at 2006-08-07 14:23:26
They are if you castrate them.
Response by Sara at 2006-08-07 15:38:07
Twin bull calves are OK. Twin heifer calves are OK. A twin bull and heifer calf, usually not. Forget the odds, but they are slim that the heifer will be able to breed. The testosterone from the bull calf will interfere with the heifer calf's developement while she is growing in the mother cow. Against all odds we had a set of twin bull and heifer calves several years ago. The heifer always looked very feminine and as she was a Registered Angus, we thought we would give her a chance, so we didn't put her in the feeder calves. Our daughter, then in Veterinary school, came home and told us the morning she was leaving for school, to put that heifer in with the calves on feed and sell her, she wouldn't be any good and that you can't tell if they're by looking at them if they're normal, only by pelvic exam. Well, the next morning the heifer was in heat, we sorted her out, drove her across the barnyard to the heifers that were with a bull. Next winter she had a very nice calf and is still in the herd. The chances of this happening are very slim though... about as slim as a molly mule getting pregnant... and that does happen, but very rare.
Response by Neal in Iowa at 2006-08-07 16:15:24
You will probably get this answer more than once. The heifer of a bull/heifer set of twins is almost always a free-martin, meaning sterile as the reproductive tract is incomplete due to the hormones that the bull calf presents. Twin heifers or twin bulls are generally fine reproductively.
You might prove this to your wife with the Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary. At least listed as such in the second edition.
Response by Coaltrain at 2006-08-07 16:31:38
If the twins are bull & heifer, the heifer has a good chance to be sterile, but not always!!
Response by Dennis at 2006-08-07 16:39:30
It depends on what kind of twins you have. If it is a male and a female, the male hormones in the developing calves will get into the blood stream of the female calf and prevent complete female organ development. The calves are called FREEMARTINS and are generally sterile. If you have 2 boys or 2 girls, there should be no problems.
Response by grady hartley at 2006-08-07 21:11:50
Thanks for all the replies. I will tell Cathy the parts I want her to hear and keep the rest in my mind in case I ever encounter twin calves.
Response by Zebu Rider at 2006-08-07 21:55:07
With a male/female there is a 90% chance the female will not be fully developed, according to experts. I always thought it to be lower, but that's what they say. One quick test is at a young age stick your 2 fingers in the vagina (with proper chaperone), leaving thumb and two little fingers out, and if you can feel the end of the cavity in a baby, then it is most likely underdeveloped. The amount of development/underdevelopment is a variable. It can be just a little, which is why I say the odds of breeding heifer are higher than the expert stats and amount to underdeveloped small udder or something.
ANYWAY, this is as far as my memory goes. This is what I was raising last year. They are still female, so still need bangs before a year if you wish to sell to someone else to raise, sterile or not.
Response by JWM at 2006-08-08 00:13:28
Had a heifer/bull set born this spring. My vet said there is a 94% chance the heifer will be sterile.
Response by Lynda at 2006-08-08 19:37:25
Our lady ox is very likely a freemartin. She was born twin to a bull, and at 15 months old has shown no signs of going into heat yet. Her udder is are about the size of the teats on our unbred adult goat does.
She's a wonderful girl and we hope she's sterile and that we've got the equivalent of a spayed female cow. I don't mind missing out on heat cycles or needing to get a steer castrated.
Connie's very level headed, gentle, sociable, and easy to train. Of course, the fact that a herd of goats thunked the rules of mannerly behavior into her hasn't hurt us a bit either - they made sure that this is one cow that absolutely will not step on your feet or tap you with her tail. They halter trained her for us as well. :)
We are very curious to see how she develops over her lifetime. Most freemartins apparently go to the auction or the freezer in short order. It will be good to see firsthand how she shapes up as a single lady ox, riding cow, and all terrain lawn moooooower. From what we've seen so far we're glad we have a freemartin and not a steer or fertile cow.
Response by Ben Frucci at 2013-01-30 21:53:00
I had a reg. hereford heifer that just gave birth to a set of twins,both heifers. From what I have been able to ascertaoin from reading on the web they should be fertile and breed ok. Is this a good assumption?
Thanks in advance for any replys. Please ease my worries as these are two beautiful calves, registered hereford and thier mama is quite the mother!!!! one had to be helped with learning how to nurse but she was the last born so naturally she was cramped while in mama. She was also bigger than 1st sister!!!!!
Response by T Payne at 2013-02-03 09:17:35
Ben, congratulations, the assumption that they should both be fertile and breed OK is solid. The freemartin problem results from mixed-gender twins. You've hit the jackpot! Good luck with them.
Response by Jenny at 2013-02-04 08:34:33
I had a freemartin, very tame and used as a babysitter for weaned calves. Interestingly, when grown, developed the look of a bull with big shoulders and chest. Did not look feminine at all.
Response by Shiloh Sink at 2013-06-18 13:54:35
I am so glad to hear that twin heifers are usually okay reproductively! We just had one of our black Angus cows give birth to twin heifers earlier today, and they seem to be doing fine so far, just keeping their mom very busy! I had always heard about free martins, but wasn't sure how it happened in utero. My mom has a sterile heifer that grew into a large steer-like animal, but is very gentle and like one of the posts said, is like a baby-sitter for the calves in her herd. Thanks for the information.
Response by keith porter at 2014-04-19 09:21:16
Our heifers sack is fully developed and filled out. She is not due til the 21st of next month. Is this normal?
Response by T Payne at 2014-04-20 11:09:08
I'll take a stab in the dark on this, for what it may be worth.
Is this a dairy animal? What exactly do you mean by "fully developed", Keith? It's not unusual for the udder to be getting larger at this stage of gestation, but "fully developed" sounds a little troubling, if you mean she looks full and ready to milk right now.
Are you feeding a lot of grain? If the answer is yes, and your calving date is bullet-proof, cut way back. An over-conditioned heifer can be a real disappointment. If there's no edema ... some folks call it "caking" ... yet, there may be no need for worry, depending on what groceries she's getting. In the last couple weeks of gestation, it is not uncommon to see quite a bit of enlargement and swelling (edema). You want to feed away from too much of that, meaning a lower-but-not-inadequate amount of energy in the ration, to avoid severe engorgement, and other troubles, not the least of which might be poor calving ease .. you know, little heifer, big calf?
Response by Vicki Russell at 2015-01-26 19:37:24
I purchased a Jersey heifer calf at a livestock auction knowing that her twin bull calf brother was in the calf pen with her. I had heard about twin heifer/bull calf reproductive issues and that there was a very slim chance that she could reproduce. This would be my first attempt at raising a bottle/bucket calf and after speaking with my vet who told me the odds were very slim that she would be able to reproduce, I took a very big chance. I did not know, at that point, about the finger test in the vagina and if my large animal vet knew it he never mentioned it. But she was just so darn cute and, of course, sold for next to nothing! To make a long story short, I raised her up and turned her out with our Angus bull. I must say that I did pray every day that she would be able to reproduce and, low and behold, she did. She was a fantastic milk producer. So that's my (true) story and I'm stickin' to it.
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