Action for Suckler Cows Having Scanned Twins

The information below is taken from a recent SAC Consulting Sheep and Beef News article by Basil Lowman and we thought provides useful advice to pass on to your clients having scanned suckler cows this autumn. 

Twins can be seen as a blessing or a curse! On the down side there are increased risks for the cow, her body condition in late pregnancy and milk / colostrum supply, plus increased risk of still birth or calving difficulties. However, if we are trying to increase efficiency and maximise the percentage of live calves born in the suckler herd having twins and actively identifying and managing cows carrying twins to reduce the risk of problems could be a successful strategy.

Some suggested advice is highlighted below:

After PD the objective is to reduce cow liveweight loss rather than increase calf birthweights

  • Separate twin cows into a different group
  • If still running with their calf, wean ASAP
  • Feed the same as the rest of the cows
  • If only one or two twin bearing cows, put them with the lean, single calving cows


6 Weeks Pre-Calving

  • Increasing feeding by approximately 20 MJ ME per day, ideally by feeding more/better quality forage rather than more concentrates
  • Also supplement rations with an extra 20 g/cow/day of a well-balanced mineral/vitamin mix


4 Weeks Before Calving Starts

  • Supplement rations with extra magnesium e.g. 30 g/cow/day of cal/mag to improve ease of calving


2 Weeks Before Calving Starts

  • Consider feeding last thing in the evening i.e. around 10 pm. This will minimise the number of cows calving in the night. The majority of calves will be born between 5 – 8am so they can be quickly moved into individual pens to ensure they are fully mothered up
  • With twins having a 3 – 7 day shorter gestation start checking the twin group at least one week before calving is due to start


Post Calving

  • Once they are fully mothered up, run all cows with twins at foot in a single group and clearly spray mark them and their dam e.g. cow A, calf A1 and A2
  • Feed at least the equivalent of 2 kg more concentrates per day than the rest of the cows to support higher milk yields and maintain/improve condition ready for mating

Posted by Basil Lowman on 07/12/2020

Tags: cows, suckler, twins
Categories: cows | suckler | twins