Autumn is our 6-year-old Jersey show cow and the family milk cow. She was due Oct 28 with her 4th calf. We were preparing to go to a dairy show with some of our younger heifers on Sunday morning. Autumn decided to give us a little present before we left.
This is the normal presentation for a calf: front feet, then nose, which should be clear of the fetal membranes.
Here is a brief video of uterine contractions.
We normally artificially inseminate our Jersey ladies with “sexed semen”. This means the semen has been separated into x and y components. Jersey bulls aren’t really useful, as they can’t give milk. We always want heifers rather than bulls. Sexed semen rates of heifers are usually 90%, which means we do get an occasional bull calf.
This was a heifer. Perfection!
However, about 15 minutes later, we saw something else. It was a 2nd calf! Hopefully a heifer as well.
Unfortunately, this 2nd surprise was a bull calf. Not a great thing because, in cattle, when a heifer and a bull grow together in utero, the hormones can cross. This allows testosterone to interfere with the development of the female reproductive tract. Many times, these heifers are sterile, which leaves us with 2 calves that aren’t very useful. Sadness…
Things could have been worse. She could have had a dead calf. We will choose to be happy that we have 2 lively calves that this cow will raise well. After some research into modern-day genetic testing, it is currently theorized that 1 in 13 freemartin heifers will develop a normal reproductive tract and be able to breed.
I will send the test to a genetics lab and see if we got super lucky. Cross your fingers!
AND – we need cute boy/girl twin names for these calves…