Can Hermaphrodite Goats Get Pregnant?
Hermaphroditic goats aren’t all that rare, but many view them as strange species of goats that should be used as scapegoats.
Normally, when two naturally hornless goats breed, around 1 in 5 of the offspring ends up being a hermaphrodite; hence the disturbing question, can hermaphrodite goats get pregnant.
The answer to the question is no, hermaphrodite goats cannot get pregnant, even though they possess both the testes and ovaries in them. You will understand better in this post.
Before going further, I would like us to understand the concept of a true hermaphrodite.
The Concept Of A True Hermaphrodite
True hermaphrodite only occurs in mammals when an animal possesses both the female and male genes. They contain both the XX and XY chromosomes in their DNA.
This comes through the biological process called “chimerism,” when two fertilized eggs or young embryos of opposite sexes fuse to develop into one baby. So the baby mammal, which comes as a gonad of both sexes, is referred to as the true hermaphrodite.
Sometimes the external genitalia may appear much like one sex. However, there is the potential for a true hermaphrodite to be fertile.
In recent times hermaphrodite has been broken down into two due to the nature of their formation, and are mosaicism and chimerism. Unlike hermaphrodite, chimerism results from the infusion of two fraternal twins.
On the other hand, mosaicism results when a single egg undergoes mutation after a few splits. The mutation is passed down to and now reflects in a percentage of the body’s cells, not the entirety. Chimeras and Mosaics are rare to see but also classified under true hermaphrodites.
Horned hermaphrodites can either be mosaics or chimeras. However, in this article, I will be based on pseudohermaphrodites. This is the type of hermaphrodite that can also be called intersex.
What is a Pseudo Hermaphrodite Goat?
A pseudo hermaphrodite goat genetically is a female goat that has been masculinized. They possess either the ovaries or testes but most times are infertile. Their external genitalia may look completely female or male, with plenty of levels of ambiguity in between.
Clinically, most goat hermaphrodites are male pseudohermaphrodites because they possess testes. However, true hermaphrodites have both testes and ovaries. The latter is very rare to see in goats.
Male Goat pseudohermaphrodites are genetically female. At birth, they appear to be female goats on the external. Still, when they hit puberty, they grow larger than the normal female goat, and they begin exhibiting aggressiveness toward other goats, including humans, during the breeding season.
Usually, the testes are located in the abdomen, but sometimes they can be partly descended and be confused for an udder.
Do note that pseudohermaphroditism is not a generalized phenomenon; this means that no two cases may look exactly alike. It differs most times.
A pseudo hermaphrodite can be found in most breeds but is more common among the Western European breeds such as Alpine, Saanen, and Toggenburg.
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What Are The Advantages Of Hermaphrodite Goats
Though hermaphrodite goats look strange, they aren’t all that bad, and research has shown that they are beneficial. So we will be looking at some of the benefits of having a hermaphrodite goat.
Hermaphrodite goats have proven to be great companions for bucks. However, they have to be pseudohermaphrodite so that you will be guaranteed that they are sterile.
Because of their female characteristics, you can use them to tease the bucks to get ready for breeding. Also, they have the same pheromones as bucks and can easily excite the does when kept with them, helping you to have an accurate indication of their heat cycles.
Furthermore, a true hermaphrodite goat is very valuable, especially fertile ones. In some pagan religions in the medieval world, milk from hermaphrodite goats is considered sacred and valued and only used for special occasions. They are mostly sold at very high prices. Some pagan religions view the hermaphrodite goat as a divine realization due to its infusion of both.
Concept of Freemartinism
A freemartin is a type of false hermaphrodite goat which is not common. However, it is more prevalent in cattle than goats.
Genetically, A freemartin goat is a female goat but higher levels of testosterone and is sterile. Freemartinism occur in goat when the female goats have a male twin, and their placentas get merged at the very early stage of their pregnancy in that they end up sharing some blood and hormones.
This results in a higher level of testosterone that causes underdevelopment of the female reproductive tract in the freemartin goat. The male twin remains unaffected by this exchange.
Due to the blood and cell transfer in the womb, the blood of a freemartin goat will contain both the XX and XY DNA. This results in a kind of chimera without the fusion of embryonic cells.
Most times, they look like the true hermaphrodite, so a blood test is needed to distinguish the freemartin goats.
Can A Hermaphrodite Goat Have Babies?
Hermaphrodite goats cannot breed and have babies but will exhibit characteristics of both bucks and do in them and contain both the testes and ovaries.
Although strange, the hermaphrodite goat cannot get pregnant. Despite its fertility, it remains a very valued goat breed that does not easily come by.
I hope you loved and found this article interesting. For more related posts, do check the posts below.