Freemartinism (new)


This is one of the most common reproductive abnormalities, mainly congenital, affecting female cattle. It occurs when both male and female conceptus are present in the same uterus. In cattle there is a tendency for the placenta of twin fetuses to merge, thereby causing the circulatory system of the twins to become interconnected. This often affects the development of the female sex organs of the female twin probably due to the androgens of the male blood circulation. 

Freemartinism is the most commonly recognized noninflammatory condition resulting in infertility involving the tubular reproductive tract in the bovine.


The main cause for occurrence of infertile females is mixed-sex twin pregnancies are chimeras, i.e. having two cell populations: one of their own (XX DNA) and one from their male twin (XY DNA) and it’s occurred because of a blood fusion between two fetuses and the blood carries all sorts of things throughout the bodies including hormones produced by the bull calf’s gonads

Freemartins arise when vascular connections form between the placentae of developing heterosexual twin foeti, XX/XY chimerism develops, and ultimately there is masculinisation of the female tubular reproductive tract to varying degrees.

Clinical Signs

  • Female that never enters oestrus
  • Small vulva
  • Hypoplastic (small and underdeveloped) uterus, uterine horns and ovaries, and short vagina on rectal palpation


Among the listed methods of analysis; we more focus on the later three methods of diagnosis.

  • History of twin male and female calves.
  • Failure of estrus to occur.
  • anatomical and histologic analysis
  • chromosomal analysis
  • hormonal analysis

Prevention and Control

  • Culling of freemartin heifers. 


  • There is no treatment for freemartinism and affected animals are usually culled
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