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30th September, 2020

***The Curse of Twins in Dairy cows.***

Many farmers dislike cows identified as carrying twins. The incidence of twins in dairy cows increases with the milk production potential of the herd. Therefor as the stress of milk production increases or other environmental stresses in the herd, the risk of cows starting with twins increases.

Unfortunately, the incidence of layer embryonic death beyond 30 days of pregnancy also increases dramatically among those cows carrying twins.

On a typical call today outside Kinnegad, we identified cows with later embryonic death with the primary cause being cows carrying twins which compete with each other for limited uterine space resulting in fetal death. Unfortunately, these cows may take 6-8 weeks after embryonic death to return to a natural heat. Smart scan technology provides the farmer with accurate information relating to those cows carrying twins. This information can be used by the farmer in conjunction with his veterinary surgeon to address the potential negative impact on calving interval.

In conclusion, cows having twins creates its own problems in terms of calf survival and future calf survival. A bigger problem that is hidden to farm management is the fact that many cows start out their pregnancy state carrying twins but fail to deliver on a full-term pregnancy because of embryonic death associated with twins. Using smart scan technology reduces the associated risk of these cows leaving the herd.