I’d prefer not to have twins if possible, but it happens sometimes, and can turn out ok.
Pros: best case scenario cow has enough milk for two, accepts both, maintains her condition, and you get an extra calf at sale time
Cons: more chance of complications calving, more chance cow will reject one and will wind up with a bottle calf that you have to raise or find another cow to put on or sell, or cow will accept both, but not have enough milk for two and will have a bottle calf or one that is a runt and won’t bring much, and two calves can really pull a cow down by the time they are weaned depending on the cow
Not a fan. Had 2 sets this year; sold one twin and the other pair is doing okay. Interesting that it was a mother & daughter that had the twins and I've never had twins out of that lineage. I do have a cow that was a twin (subsequent bottle calf), sold her sister to a neighbor. So far, neither has had twins and they're now 7.
Twins are nothing but problems. It is kind of neat to watch two little calves nursing, but that's were it ends. They take extra care to make sure their nursing, that the cow claims both of them. Twins pull the cow down. Our twins go to a small pasture where we can feed the cows extra. The cows don't always get bred back on time.
I think twining is very environmental. We try to maintain good BCS's , feed wind and rain 7.5 year around, and have a strong vaccination & parasite control program. My record is 11sets of live twins out of 200 bred cows. We've had 4 sets so far this year. Two live two dead. Took the live twins split them and grafted one onto cows that lost calves
Without getting too deep into the physiology of why it happens, cows are more likely to double ovulate when they aren't cycling normally. The first heat after calving or heats after prolonged nutritional or heat stress are more likely to be double ovulations.
If a cow has a genetic predisposition to twinning, her daughters can inherit it without necessarily being twins themselves.
Thanks for sharing, good article very interesting. Up until eight years ago we had only had two sets of twins and that was over the course of 20 years. So eight years ago our son Jacob and his wife had twin girls, but the weird thing is we have had one set of twins every year since they arrived! Two years ago we purchased a nurse cow because were convinced this trend is going to continue. No relation as far as a particular genetic line, just one set every season. It does always seem to be an older cow, I wonder if that can have an impact.
I seem to have a set every other year (about 1 in 40, give or take)
This year the cow that had twins raised them both with no fuss at all, but I had one cow lose a calf.. I grafted the male twin on (he was 2 months old).. I'm tempted to keep and test the heifer for freemartinism.. she's looking nice and her sisters are good... can't tell she's had to share 2 months of milk
Cons--You go and check a cow preg checked with twins that is due and she has one big calf suckling. A search around yields no twin.
Pros --Your daughter goes out and double checks your search effort and finds an unclaimed calf clinging to life in an adjacent pen. I think the calf will make it thanks to her one upping her dad. Proud of her. haha
We usually calve out about 40 cows and have between one to 3 sets of twins out of those. They calve out on large pastures. Prior to 2005 my husband and I worked full time and although we tried to check on cows every day, it was usually after dark when we went hunting for new calves. From 1995 to 2005 we found only a couple twins. After I retired in 2005, I was able to check several times per day during daylight hours and the number of twins went up dramatically. I wonder how many I missed prior to that. In 2011 we had retained 6 heifers as replacements. They were out of cows with different pedigrees and sired by multiple AI and walking sires. One of them did not settle and was culled as a heifer. Over the next years every single one of them had at least one set of twins. I wonder why that whole year class was prone to twinning when the only thing they had in common was their year of birth.
The Cons are the same as others have mentioned. The calves will often get tangled in birth and you can lose them both. Other times one will come backward and if you're not there, you will lose one. Many cows will reject one and if they calve out in the pasture, you may not even know. Your only hint might be a single calf that is much smaller than expected. We had two sets this year and that was my hint to keep looking. Neither twin was found until hours later. Even if the cow accepts both, you will need to watch her and feed her extra for months. If you don't, they are likely to leave one behind at some point, and it can be lost or gotten by a predator. You'll most likely end up with two smaller calves and a skinny cow if she does succeed in raising both.
The Pros are you have a spare if another cow loses a calf. Since we don't observe many births, we do lose some almost every year. Twins come in handy in that situation. I discovered this year that you can graft a calf on a cow up to at least 17 days after she has lost one at birth. That sure beats having a bottle calf.
Yup, previously mentioned but didn't include in my initial post. Twins last year and lost them both. It appeared she had the first twin at the crack of dawn, naturally during a deep freeze, and was cleaning it off when she went into labor with the 2nd that was definitely under developed and stillborn. But she still licked it off. Meanwhile, the first calf wasn't completely clean/dry and freezing when I found them. Took it to the workshop, spent hours in front of the fireplace trying to get her warm. Thought she was going to be okay but just freakin' died.
3 pairs alive and 1 pair aborted by an heifer one month prior due date. Normal year for us. I prefer one good calf but it's not really a problem when they have twins, our cows calve indoors so we don't see abandon problems. 1 cow had them by herself, the 2 other they had the first calf alone and we searched for a second one as the first was very little and the cow was thinner with a big belly.
Just had a new mixed pair! The first one the cow had him by herself but we find the hair short and he was small for the mother, we put on a glove and find another who was breech, got her out in no time. Both are in great shape.
Having twins on pasture is difficult. Dairy operations, and folks that calve in barns, have better success.
We found that there is also a strong breed tendency when calving twins on pasture. "Easy" cows like simi x will accept two calves much more often than some English breeds, w/o having to be penned up tight for a couple days.