My Heifers a Freemartin

“I guarantee” says the women “that she is not a freemartin and if you need any advice on how to raise her, just give me a call.” Guess what, she’s a freemartin. I asked because it is hard to get any calves or milk from a sterile cow.

Yup, the term freemartin is one of those things you need to know if you are going to raise cattle. It is a severe sexual disorder that is fairly common. When twins are a bull and a heifer, the heifer will turn out sterile 93 percent of the time, basically a guarantee. What happens in utero is that both calves share the placenta membrane allowing testosterone from the bull calf to cycle through the heifer. Her ovaries and female organs don’t fully develop.

We could run blood tests to make sure but it is pretty ‘Captain Obvious’ our Ellie is sterile. When young Bullwinkle, our steer, and her would jump on each other and I assumed she was cycling. Nope, just having fun because the trip to the bull left her empty and in maturity they haven’t ridden since. Couple the fact that she is more masculine in appearance and more aggressive and bingo, you’ve got a freemartin. Now you could reach inside and check to make sure she is a freemartin but if she hasn’t come up pregnant we aren’t getting a calf or milk so she’s only good for meat anyway so why bother. That is unless you are itching to stick your plastic glove up the backside of a cow.  No thanks.

A freemartin is not necessarily a bad thing. It is rather nice if her purpose is meat as she won’t go to the neighbors looking for her long lost lover leaving the fence in tatters. She won’t try and shove you around and act goofy because she is cycling and she won’t cause all the steers to think they are Romeo without equipment. It’s the reason why they sterilize heifers destined for the feedlot.  It curtails the drama and increases weight gain in the calming environment.

Oh well, it all worked out for the best. Life is more busy than ever and I don’t have time for a milk cow. We could use a lot more hamburger though. Once again the Lord knew what’s best.

Just so you know there are freemartins in sheep, goats, and pigs too but it is uncommon. I’ve never heard of one or had one.



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