Animal Husbandry, Dairy & Fisheries Sector – Pashudhan Sanjivani, E- Pashudhan Haat, etc

Freemartins in Animal Husbandry


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Freemartinism

Mains level: NA

Central Idea

  • In the realm of animal husbandry, a phenomenon known as Freemartinism sheds light on the extraordinary diversity found in cattle.

Freemartinism: A Unique Phenomenon

  • Freemartins are sterile female cattle born exhibiting characteristics of both sexes.
  • This phenomenon arises when a male and a female twin develop within the same uterus, occurring in approximately 90% of twin pregnancies in cattle.
  • The exchange of blood between the male and female foetuses during gestation plays a pivotal role in Freemartinism.
  • Freemartinism is primarily attributed to the sharing of cells carrying the Y chromosome from the male twin with the female twin.
  • Y chromosome triggers the development of male reproductive organs in the male foetus, while the female foetus, influenced by male hormones, undergoes incomplete development of its reproductive system.
  • Freemartins possess underdeveloped or non-functional reproductive tracts, rendering them incapable of reproduction.

Agricultural Significance

  • In agricultural settings, identifying freemartins is crucial to enhance reproductive efficiency in cattle breeding.
  • Farmers often utilize physical and behavioural traits to identify freemartins, subsequently removing them from the breeding herd.
  • This culling strategy helps improve the overall breeding program by ensuring that non-reproductive cattle do not contribute to the herd.

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