Freemartins in beef cattle twins induced by embryo transfer

M. B. Horton, G. B. Anderson, Robert Bondurant, P. T. Cupps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The incidence of freemartinism in heterosexual twins (male-female) resulting from embryo transfer was studied by determining sex chromosome chimerism in lymphocytes and masculinization of female reproductive tracts at slaughter. In one group of calves, ten of 11 heifers born co-twin to full sib, paternal half sib, or unrelated bull calves exhibited sex chromosome chimerism, a proportion in close agreement with that observed in naturally occurring twins. The ten calves with sex chromosome chimerism also had masculinized tracts whereas the other had an apparently normal female tract. Bull calves had a percentage of XY cells similar to their female co-twins, except for the twin set from which the "normal" female was obtained. The bull calf from this set had 5.6% XX cells although no XY cells were observed in the heifer in 66 metaphase spreads. No association was observed between the degree of sex chromosome chimerism and abnormalities of the female tract. Reproductive tracts from all female-female twin sets were normal. In another group of calves, all 20 heifers from heterosexual twin sets had masculinized reproductive tracts. It is concluded that the induction of twins by embryo transfer results in normal expression of freemartinism even though calves may be unrelated and are known to develop in separate uterine horns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-451
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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