Special Issue "Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Cattle".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 February 2021).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Irina Garcia Ispierto
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Agrotecnio Center, University of Lleida, 25198 Lleida, Spain
Department of Animal Science, University of Lleida, 25198 Lleida, Spain
Interests: bovine reproduction; ecography; sincronization; fertility; pregnancy loss; twin pregnancy and post-partum; Coxiella burnetti and Neospora caninum in dairy cattle

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce a Special Issue of Animals on “Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle”, due to the increase new strategies that recently appear to reduce them. This Special Issue is focused on new techniques to identify and diminish the great negative economic impact of twin pregnancies and twin parturition in cattle. It is also aimed at increasing knowledge of therapeutics than can be applied in commercial dairy herds for experts in the weekly reproductive visits. 

Year by year, twin pregnancies and multiple ovulations are dramatically increasing in high-producing dairy herds. Sometimes this is attributed solely to high milk production, but little by little, the scientific community is realizing that, as with many reproductive events, this is a multifactorial problem. Regardless, well-managed high-producing dairy herds need solutions to the increasing pressure to reduce the use of antibiotics and increase the lifespan of dairy cattle. Twin pregnancies are one of the problems with the greatest negative impacts on both factors. Scientists, veterinarians, and clinicians should work together to mitigate the strong economic pressure placed upon herds by administrations.

It is vital for the future of dairy farms that research is focused on determining factors that increase double ovulations, properly learning how to recognize a twin pregnancy, and establishing a proper action protocol as in mare or human pregnancies. Dairy cattle veterinarians should improve at pace with farms. For that reason, this Issue tries to shed some light on therapeutics of twin pregnancies.

Prof. Dr. Irina Garcia Ispierto
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • double ovulation
  • bovine
  • livestock
  • reproduction
  • twinning rate

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(6), 1564; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11061564 - 27 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1492
Abstract
The series of eight articles (three original articles, three reviews and two com-ments) is presented by international leaders in the subject of twin pregnancies in dairy cattle [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)

Research

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Article
Genomic Prediction for Twin Pregnancies
Animals 2021, 11(3), 843; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11030843 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1116
Abstract
Twinning is a multifactorial trait influenced by both genetic and environmental factors that can negatively impact animal welfare and economic sustainability on commercial dairy operations. To date, using genetic selection as a tool for reducing twinning rates on commercial dairies has been proposed, [...] Read more.
Twinning is a multifactorial trait influenced by both genetic and environmental factors that can negatively impact animal welfare and economic sustainability on commercial dairy operations. To date, using genetic selection as a tool for reducing twinning rates on commercial dairies has been proposed, but not yet implemented. In response to this market need, Zoetis (Kalamazoo, MI, USA) has developed a genomic prediction for twin pregnancies, and included it in a comprehensive multitrait selection index. The objectives of this study were to (1) describe a genetic evaluation for twinning in Holstein cattle, (2) demonstrate the efficacy of the predictions, (3) propose strategies to reduce twin pregnancies using this information. Data were retrieved from commercial dairies and provided directly by producers upon obtaining their permission. The twin pregnancies trait (TWIN) was defined as a pregnancy resulting in birth or abortion of twin calves, classified as a binary (0,1) event, and analysed using a threshold animal model. Predictions for a subset of cows were compared to their on-farm twin records. The heritability for twin pregnancies was 0.088, and genomic predicted transmitting abilities ((g)PTAs) ranged from −7.45–20.79. Genetic correlations between TWIN and other traits were low, meaning that improvement for TWIN will not negatively impact improvement for other traits. TWIN was effectively demonstrated to identify cows most and least likely to experience a twin pregnancy in a given lactation, regardless of reproductive protocol used. Effective inclusion of the prediction in a multitrait selection index offers producers a comprehensive tool to inform selection and management decisions. When combined with sound management practices, this presents a compelling opportunity for dairy producers to proactively reduce the incidence of twin pregnancies on commercial dairy operations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
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Article
Inducing Ovulation with hCG Improves Fertility Outcomes of Co-Dominant Follicle Drainage to Avoid Twin Pregnancy in Dairy Cows
Animals 2021, 11(1), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010169 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 931
Abstract
Twin pregnancies are undesirable in dairy cattle as they dramatically compromise cow lifespan and, consequently, herd economy. Clinical problems in cows arise from the time of pregnancy diagnosis to pregnancy loss, abortion, or parturition. The drainage of co-dominant follicles in cows with two [...] Read more.
Twin pregnancies are undesirable in dairy cattle as they dramatically compromise cow lifespan and, consequently, herd economy. Clinical problems in cows arise from the time of pregnancy diagnosis to pregnancy loss, abortion, or parturition. The drainage of co-dominant follicles in cows with two or more follicles at insemination prevents twin pregnancy. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of draining the smaller of two follicles through a simplified maneuver not requiring ultrasonography in cows in their third or more lactation, and then inducing ovulation immediately before artificial insemination (AI) with GnRH or human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). Animals were monitored by ultrasound at AI and randomly assigned to the groups: follicular drainage and treatment with GnRH (Deph; n = 60), follicular drainage and treatment with hCG (hCG; n = 60), and non-drainage (ND; n = 60) as control cows. On the basis of odds ratios, cows treated with hCG were 2.1 times more likely to become pregnant than control animals. Our results reveal the efficacy of hCG treatment at AI in cows with two follicles of pre-ovulatory size subjected to a simple follicular drainage procedure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
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Article
Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle: Observations in a Large Herd of Holstein-Friesian Dairy Cows
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2165; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112165 - 20 Nov 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 868
Abstract
Multiple pregnancies have devastating consequences on the herd economy of dairy cattle. This observational study examines incidence patterns based on data from the ultrasonographic examination of 1130 multiple pregnancies in cows in their third lactation or more carrying twins (98.8%), triplets (1.1%), or [...] Read more.
Multiple pregnancies have devastating consequences on the herd economy of dairy cattle. This observational study examines incidence patterns based on data from the ultrasonographic examination of 1130 multiple pregnancies in cows in their third lactation or more carrying twins (98.8%), triplets (1.1%), or quadruplets (0.08%), and 3160 of their peers carrying singletons. Cows became pregnant following a spontaneous estrus with no previous hormone treatments. Irrespective of a significant decrease (p < 0.0001) in the conception rate (28–34 days post-insemination) during the warm period of the year, the multiple pregnancy rate was similar for both warm (26.5%) and cool (26.3%) periods. The incidence of unilateral multiple pregnancies (all embryos in the same uterine horn) was higher than that of bilateral pregnancies (at least one embryo in each uterine horn): 54.4% versus 45.6% (p < 0.0001). This difference rose to 17% during the warm season (p = 0.03). Pregnancy was monitored in unilateral multiple pregnancies until abortion or parturition (n = 615). In the warm period, the parturition rate was 43% compared to 61% recorded in the cool period (p < 0.0001). Thus, a warm climate is the main factor compromising the fate of multiple pregnancies. Some clinical suggestions are provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)

Review

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Review
Economics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(2), 552; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020552 - 20 Feb 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 947
Abstract
Twinning in Holstein dairy cows has increased over time concurrent with increased milk production. Twinning in dairy cattle is not desirable due to the negative effects on both cows that calve twins and calves born as twins that result in economic losses to [...] Read more.
Twinning in Holstein dairy cows has increased over time concurrent with increased milk production. Twinning in dairy cattle is not desirable due to the negative effects on both cows that calve twins and calves born as twins that result in economic losses to dairy farms. Although a twin pregnancy could bring additional income from extra calves and shorten gestation length, twinning compromises milk production, increases the incidence of dystocia and perinatal mortality, decreases calf birth weight, increases the incidence of metabolic diseases, decreases fertility, increases the incidence of freemartinism, increases overall culling risks, and shortens the productive lifespan of cows. Based on a summary of economic analyses from several studies, the estimated losses due to twinning range between $59 to $161 per twin pregnancy. Most twinning in dairy cows is dizygotic and directly related to the incidence of double ovulations, and economic losses are greater for unilateral than for bilateral twins. Hormonal manipulation before artificial insemination that allows for timed artificial insemination is a primary strategy for decreasing twinning in dairy cows before it occurs by decreasing the incidence of double ovulation thereby decreasing conception of dizygotic twins and the associated negative economic consequences. When twins are diagnosed early during gestation, management options might include doing nothing, terminating the pregnancy, or attempting manual embryo reduction. Based on a recent economic analysis of these options, attempting manual embryo reduction decreased the economic losses of a twin pregnancy by $23 to $45. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
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Review
Thermal Mechanisms Preventing or Favoring Multiple Ovulations in Dairy Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(2), 435; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11020435 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 684
Abstract
While cows are predominantly monovular, over the past 30 years the incidence of multiple ovulations and thus twinning has increased considerably alongside milk production. Multiple pregnancies are not desirable as they negatively affect the health of cows and the herd economy. Although causal [...] Read more.
While cows are predominantly monovular, over the past 30 years the incidence of multiple ovulations and thus twinning has increased considerably alongside milk production. Multiple pregnancies are not desirable as they negatively affect the health of cows and the herd economy. Although causal mechanisms associated with multiple ovulations have been extensively revised, the process of multiple ovulations is not well understood. Recent studies on the thermal biology of the reproductive system have shown how thermal mechanisms may prevent or favor multiple ovulations. This review focuses on this relationship between thermal dynamics and multiple pregnancies. Cooling of the pre-ovulatory follicle is able to regulate ovulation. In effect, pre-ovulatory local cooling of the female reproductive system favors male and female gamete maturation and promotes fertilization. Thermal stress is proposed here as a model of stress. Periods of high ambient temperature affect the processes of pre-ovulatory follicular cooling and multiple ovulations. While the ratio between unilateral and bilateral multiple pregnancies is normally close to one, under heat stress conditions, this ratio may be 1.4 favoring unilateral multiple pregnancies. A ratio approaching unity is here proposed as an indicator of cow wellbeing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
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Review
Benefits and Risks of Preventing Twin Pregnancies
Animals 2021, 11(1), 148; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010148 - 11 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 902
Abstract
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, [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
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Other

Commentary
Practical Aspects of Twin Pregnancy Diagnosis in Cattle
Animals 2021, 11(4), 1061; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11041061 - 08 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 603
Abstract
Twin pregnancies are an economically unwanted phenomenon in dairy cattle, not only because they increase pregnancy losses, but also because antibiotics usage and culling rate of the dam are also dramatically increased due to them, furthermore animal welfare issues are also affected through [...] Read more.
Twin pregnancies are an economically unwanted phenomenon in dairy cattle, not only because they increase pregnancy losses, but also because antibiotics usage and culling rate of the dam are also dramatically increased due to them, furthermore animal welfare issues are also affected through them. In cattle, under field conditions using an early pregnancy determination tool, the first accurate diagnosis from the pregnancy status is available from around day 28, although further confirmations of pregnancy are required. Twin pregnancy diagnosis is available either by rectal palpation or ultrasonography. The measurement of pregnancy specific proteins are also available to determine gestation, but there is still a long way to go to properly identify twin pregnancies. In this commentary, we compared our own results with the literature data in this field with a special emphasis on the clinical practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
Commentary
Twins in Dairy Herds. Is It Better to Maintain or Reduce a Pregnancy?
Animals 2020, 10(11), 2006; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112006 - 31 Oct 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 982
Abstract
Multiple ovulations and so multiple pregnancies have increased recently in dairy cattle. The incidence of the double ovulation impact in high producers at insemination may be over 20%. Twin pregnancies are undesirable as they seriously compromise the welfare and productive lifespan of the [...] Read more.
Multiple ovulations and so multiple pregnancies have increased recently in dairy cattle. The incidence of the double ovulation impact in high producers at insemination may be over 20%. Twin pregnancies are undesirable as they seriously compromise the welfare and productive lifespan of the cow and herd economy. Clinical problems extend from the time of pregnancy diagnosis to pregnancy loss, abortion or parturition. Early pregnancy loss or abortion of multiple pregnancies lead in most cases to culling. In cows reaching their term, mean productive lifespan is up to about 300 days shorter for cows delivering twins than for cows delivering singletons. While there is an urgent need to address multiple pregnancy prevention procedures in the foreseeable future, the incidence of twin pregnancies continues to rise in parallel with increased milk production. Herein, we review two contrasting measures proposed for the time of twin pregnancy diagnosis: (1) gonadotropin-releasing hormone treatment for pregnancy maintenance, or (2) embryo reduction. These options are discussed in terms of their implications for individual animal health and herd economy. Our main conclusions find that manual twin reduction has proven to be the best management option, whereas the use of prostaglandin F for inducing abortion may be a better option than doing nothing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Therapeutics of Twin Pregnancies in Dairy Cattle)
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