How Often Do Jersey Cows Have Twins? Science Explained

Twin births occur as a result of multiple ovulations. Twins are produced when a female gives birth to two or more offspring from the same gestation period and the same mating. It is more common in dairy cows than in meat cows.

The resulting twin calves may be monozygotic, coming from the division of one fertilized egg, in which case the twins are identical in sex and all characteristics. Dizygotic twins come from two separate fertilized eggs, in which case the twins may be of the same sex or of different sexes.

They are also non-identical twins and differ in their characteristics. In any case, the birth of twins is not desirable in cows, especially dairy cows.

Let’s learn more about the birth of twins in Jersey cows, their rates, and the challenges that result from the birth of twins.

How Often Do Jersey Cows Have Twins?

Jersey Cow and his baby

As we mentioned, twins are a rare condition in Jersey cows and cows in general. Twin births occur at a very low rate, ranging from 3 to 5%.

The birth of twins in cows depends on many factors, including genetic background, environmental factors, and cow production. The birth of twins is more common in dairy cows and very rare in meat cows.

Can Jersey Cows Have Twins?

Yes, Jersey cows can give birth to twins, but the birth of twins is rare, not only in Jersey cows, but it is a rare and unusual condition in most cattle animals. Although goats and sheep usually give birth to twins or three fetuses sometimes, these twins live healthily and do not cause problems most of the time.

On the other hand, the birth of twins is more complicated in most livestock animals, as it may cause many health problems that may reach Sometimes to infertility! [1]

What Causes A Cow To Have Twins?

Conceiving twins is a rare and unlikely thing in cows. But the rate of twins in dairy cows has doubled during the past years. Studies found that Holstein cows have tripled the rate of conceiving twins during the past 25 years.

Research on dairy reproduction has shown that other environmental factors and feeding conditions have a significant impact on the number of calves born to each mother.

It turned out that the increase in twinning cases in dairy cows was the result of increased milk production resulting from increased deliberate feeding of dairy cows. I know that it sound complicated and understandable, I will clarify it more in the next paragraph.

Increasing Milk Production And Having Twins

In recent years, there have been more genetic improvements and a trend towards better breeding and feeding of animals to obtain the largest producer of milk. Indeed, the quantities of milk produced by dairy cows have doubled over the past years.

The quick increase in milk yields is not the as impressive thing as it seems, because, with the increase in milk production, the incidence of twinning also increased.

According to research conducted by Mr. Paul Fricke, Dairy Reproduction Specialist at the University of Wisconsin over the past 15 years, it was found that a higher intake of feed to increase milk production directly affected progesterone. Eating large amounts of feed increases blood flow through the liver, which reduces the amount of progesterone in the blood.

It has been proven that this decrease in the hormone progesterone leads to an increase in the possibility of double ovulation in one cycle. Which leads to pregnancy in dizygotic (separated, non-identical) twins.

Meaning that the higher the amount of feed eaten by the cow, the greater the possibility of giving birth to twins. This explains the marked increase in the birth of twins in Holsteins, which is known to be the highest in milk production and are fed intensively.

When cows produce up to 40 liters of milk production per day, double ovulation occurs at a rate of about 25%. But when the production is increased to 50 liters per day, the rate of double ovulation increases to 50%! The amount of feed that cows eat in the 14 days immediately preceding the natural estrous has a direct effect on the occurrence of double ovulation.

Some may say, what is the problem with a cow giving birth to twins? Isn’t this a good thing if it leads to an increase in the number of calves?

In fact, it’s not that nice, because the bodies of cows are not naturally inclined to give birth to twins. Rather, the birth of twins will result in many health problems.

What Are The Problems Associated With Giving Birth To Twins In Cows?

Problems associated with giving birth to twins in cows include:

Reproductive Problems

Increased incidence of pregnancy and childbirth disorders such as miscarriage, dystocia, retained placenta, and metritis.

Metabolic Disorders 

Pregnancy in twins represents a great effort on the systems and organs of the cow, and the body is under a state of pressure to maintain the pregnancy, which results in an increased possibility of metabolic problems such as displaced abomasum and ketosis.

Fertility Decline

A twin pregnancy leads to a decrease in fertility, as the number of open days and the number of fertilizations per pregnancy increase.

Decreased Milk Production

Milk production decreases after the birth of twins. as the pregnancy in twins exhausts the body and reduces its reproductive efficiency. Dairy cows that give birth to twins are often culled.


When a cow is pregnant with heterosexual twins, this leads to a sexual condition called Freemartinism. which is a common condition that occurs in a large percentage of between 90 to 97% of twin pregnancies, which causes infertility in the female calf!

Low Birth Weight

Although twins increase the number of calves, the calves born in the case of twins are weak and often have low weight, because the nutrients are divided into two fetuses instead of in single pregnancies where all the food goes to one fetus.

How To Avoid Twinning In Dairy Cows?

At first glance, some may say that the solution is simple, which is to reduce feed intake, which reduces the possibility of double ovulation. but when you think for another moment, you will find that reducing feed will also negatively affect milk production.

It will eventually lead to a decrease in production and profits. So this is not an appropriate option. Therefore, more effective options must be identified.

Another way to reduce the odds of twinning is to manipulate ovarian function to increase progesterone levels.

Since low levels of progesterone play a major role in double ovulation, working to increase progesterone levels is one of the effective ways for farmers to avoid the occurrence of twinning cases in dairy cattle that result from eating large quantities of feed.

Therefore, the planned hormonal synchronization to increase the progesterone hormone during the development of the follicle of the egg will increase the rates of natural single pregnancy and reduce double ovulation.

Thus, reducing the proportion of twinning in high-productivity dairy cows that consume large amounts of feed.

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Doaa Salah
The shy one (too shy to put her photo) and the only girl in our team! Doaa is a veterinarian who is passionate about writing content. She knows a lot about animals and birds, as she has been studying them for many years now. Her goal? She is researching and learning to convey to you all the knowledge she have and what's new about farming.