To twin or not to twin

Author: L. Pienaar, M.M. Scholtz & K.A. Nephawe
Year: 2018
Issue: 1
Volume: 11
Page: 68 - 75

Successful reproduction of a cow-calf production system is the corner stone for biological and economical efficiencies. Cattle evaluations have focused mainly on production traits and consequently genetic improvement on reproductive traits through the use of selection tools is limited. Twinning is a complex trait with genetic- and physiological components affecting the trait. Furthermore, the reproduction of cattle is dependent on several factors which includes species type i.e. Bos taurus, Bos indicus, breed, animal class and locality. The interaction between environment, heat, genetic factors and management also influences the occurrence, with multiple births most likely being due to multiple ovulations with a frequency not more than 1 %. Where twinning is treated as a trait, the heritability, repeatability and variance is very low. Some disadvantages associated with twinning includes infertility of the heifer calf, lower calf survival, increased culling rate, lower cow reproductive performance caused by factors such as dystocia, gestation length and retained placenta. However, when raising twins a beef cow will most likely wean more total calf weight than a cow with only one calf. Therefore, twinning offers the potential for an increase in beef production efficiency in a herd. However, sustainable management practices must be implemented to handle the potential problems associated with twinning.Pienaar_Vol11_Article1

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