Posted by Megan @ 07:50 AM PST
It just makes sense.[ Member listing ]
11 Feb · Fri 2011
There is a Chimera in the Pasture!
This morning I found a set of twin calves in the pasture (growl). As I went in to check they got up and hurried over to mom. As they moved away from me I noticed that one was a bull calf and the other a heifer. That means there is a better than 90 percent chance that the heifer is a Freemarten which is the sterile co-twin of male female twinning in cattle. The male hormones from the male calf share the common circulation and inhibit normal development of the reproductive organs of the female. The female is also what is called an erythrocytic Chimera, meaning she has both XY and XX chromosomes. A simple blood test will confirm this. We Never keep twin calves as breeders so both calves will be tagged for production and if the mother cow produces a second set of twins she will be culled. Twin calves don't seem to be as hardy in my experience and put an excessive amount of stress on the mother cow. Cattle usually have single births and this is only the 3rd Freemarten I've had in the last 15 years. It isn't that common but does happen and folks new to raising cattle need to be aware of the phenomenon. A Freemarten will finish out much the same as a steer and the male twin should be castrated as well as some studies have shown that Co-twin bull calves have a reduced sperm count and should not be kept for breeding. Twins usually stay smaller than single calves and tend to finish at lighter weights so at least from this grass based producers standpoint, I don't want twins in my herd. Meg http://www.mmlivestockco.com
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