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home : lifestyle : lifestyle today   February 5, 2016

6/3/2013 11:52:00 AM
Nancy wants to know about twins lives

Nancy Dinelli-Prill

This column makes no sense! It started out so simple. “Come down and have some rhubarb coffee cake and a cup of coffee,” called a neighbor.
“The Farmer” said we would be there at 8. Therefore when 8 a.m. rolled around, we were at the house of a farmer and his wife and their livestock.
As we sat at the farm house kitchen table feasting, the livestock farmer calmly stated that he has 16 live calves out of 18 cows, five other calves had died.
It was the wrong thing to say to me because my “column mind” always is churning. Therefore, I started to interview, asking what were the circumstances involved in such a happening?
Well, between the farmer, who I was trying to get information from, his wife and my own “Farmer,” it got pretty hairy and with everyone chiming in when I asked a question, my feeble mind started to get more confused as the clock ticked away, the coffee cups emptied and the rhubarb coffee cake was eaten.
The livestock farmer stated that his crossbred cows had delivered many twins, but he did have a new purebred bull. That is when I tried to register on paper what the cows were. I knew they were crossbreds, but I was trying to find out what their cross was.
I also was trying to find out how many of the twins from each cow had lived.
I also was trying to find out the sex of the twins, because from the time my feet landed on livestock soil, some 51 years ago, I had listened to stories about the tale of “freemartin,” when a cow has twins not of the same sex.
For those who are not livestock reproduction informed, if the twins born to a cow are of different sexes, the female of the two will be sterile.
After doing some digging, I also learned from “Wikipedia” (that sometimes can be wrong) and I quote, “Freemartinism is the normal outcome of mixed-sex twins in all cattle species that have been studied, and it also occurs occasionally in other mammals including sheep, goats and pigs.”
At any rate, at our “square table” discussion I asked more questions. He said out of 21 calves he had 16 live calves. I think he said from 18 cows.
Do not quote me on any of this because the discussion was so goofy and intertwined that I had trouble making heads or tales out of what everyone was saying. That is why parts of this column make no sense.
Also the farmer that I was interviewing said that I could not put his name in the paper.
What I went on to find, in this more than confusing discussion, was that the purebred bull he was pasture breeding with was new to this group of females and I was trying to figure out the genetics of his herd and the relationship to the bull and why so many twins.
Then the subject turned to wondering if these cows were capable of all raising twins. They said they were bottle feeding some and then there was something about the “Dolly Parton” cow.
“The Dolly Parton cow?” I asked.
At this point I scratched my head, folded up my little piece of paper that I took very few notes on in order to write this mess of a column and because we had drank the coffee pot dry and left some crumbs of the rhubarb coffee cake, I said it was time to leave.
The rest of the story is that Alicia had a female jackass she bred to another jackass and her Jenny had twins, one male and one female. My question is does “freemartin” also apply to jackasses?
Boy, I’m glad I’m finished with this column. If you aren’t confused, I sure am. Ciao!

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