Benefits and Risks of Preventing Twin Pregnancies
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Clinical problems associated with twin pregnancies have been well established, and twin births are now considered undesirable or even disastrous for the dairy cattle industry and the individual cow. The high incidence of early fetal loss, abortion during the mid-lactation period, dystocia, stillbirth, and placenta retention should be considered a preventable consequence of management, as these disorders greatly compromise the welfare and productive lifespan of a cow carrying or delivering twins. The use of sexed semen generates herd replacements and additional heifers, so a proposed strategy for twin pregnancy prevention is the transfer of a single in vitro-produced female beef cow embryo to cows not suitable for producing replacements. Another proposed strategy is drainage at insemination of co-dominant follicles to prevent twin pregnancies in cows with genetic merit. As a result, embryo survival should improve, economic losses associated with twin pregnancies will be prevented, beef output from the herd will be increased, and the health and welfare of the cow will certainly benefit. In this review, the clinical prospects of preventing or avoiding twin pregnancies using both procedures are discussed.