Factors affecting pregnancy loss for single and twin pregnancies in a high-producing dairy herd

Noelia Silva Del Rio, J. D. Colloton, P. M. Fricke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Scopus citations


Our objective was to determine the magnitude of, and factors affecting, pregnancy loss for lactating Holstein cows on a commercial dairy farm when diagnosed with twin (n = 98) or single (n = 518) pregnancies using transrectal ultrasonography. Pregnancy losses were assessed with records of non-viable embryos at first pregnancy examination and embryo losses between the first (25-40 d after AI) and second (48 and 82 d after AI) post-breeding pregnancy examinations. Among cows diagnosed with single pregnancies, 3.7% were diagnosed with a non-viable embryo at first pregnancy examination, and 4.6% of those diagnosed with a viable embryo underwent pregnancy loss by the second examination. A total of 11.2% of cows diagnosed with twins experienced a single embryo reduction, whereas 13.3% lost both embryos. Overall, the total proportion of cows experiencing pregnancy loss or experiencing embryo reduction was greater for cows diagnosed with twin than single pregnancies (odds ratio; OR = 3.6), resulting in an embryo survival rate of 91.9% for cows diagnosed with single compared to 75.5% for cows diagnosed with twin pregnancies. Season of breeding and milk production were associated with pregnancy loss for single pregnancies, whereas CL number was associated negatively with embryo reduction and pregnancy loss for twin pregnancies. The risk of twinning and double ovulation among pregnant cows increased with days in milk (DIM), and the risk of double ovulation was greater for cows diagnosed with ovarian cysts and lacking a CL at initiation of an Ovsynch protocol. We concluded that in this herd, embryo reduction and pregnancy loss during early gestation was greater for lactating Holstein cows diagnosed with twin compared to single pregnancies. In addition, cows diagnosed with ovarian cysts and lacking a CL had an increased risk for double ovulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1462-1471
Number of pages10
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Dairy cattle
  • Double ovulation
  • Pregnancy loss
  • Twinning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Small Animals
  • Food Animals
  • Equine
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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