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Management aspects of induced twinning in beef suckler cows using in vitro fertilised embryos
  1. CD Penny,
  2. BG Lowman,
  3. NA Scott,
  4. PR Scott,
  5. S Voelkel and
  6. DA Davies
  1. Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Easter Bush, Roslin, Midlothian.


Twin and single pregnancies were induced in two groups of oestrus-synchronised beef cows by using a combination of artificial insemination and the transfer of in vitro fertilised (IVF) embryos. Single IVF embryos transferred non-surgically to the uterine horn contralateral to the corpus luteum of 43 previously inseminated cows resulted in a calving rate of 72 per cent with a twinning rate of 38.7 per cent. In 45 cows, two IVF embryos were transferred non-surgically to one uterine horn resulting in a calving rate of 51.1 per cent with a twinning rate of 39.1 per cent. The median gestation length for cows bearing twins was 10 days shorter than that of cows bearing single calves (P < 0.001). The proportions of cows that received assistance at calving were similar for twin and single births (57 per cent vs 45 per cent, P > 0.05), but the incidence of retained fetal membranes was much higher after the birth of twins (62 per cent vs 3 per cent, P < 0.001). Nineteen per cent of twin calves were stillborn compared with 6 per cent of single calves (P > 0.05). The median birthweight of the twin calves was 32 kg (68 per cent of the median weight of single calves). The nutrition of twin-bearing cows in late pregnancy was adequate when assessed in terms of their plasma glucose, non-esterified fatty acid and beta-hydroxybutyrate concentrations. Serum immunoglobulin concentrations were similar in single and twin calves suggesting that the passive transfer of antibody was not compromised in the twin calves.

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