Anatomy and Physiology of Beef Cattle

Listed below are some quick facts of information from “Anatomy and Physiology of Beef Cattle Fact Sheet”, written by Taylor Davis.

Female External Genitalia:

Vulva

  • The external part of the reproductive tract. The thickened folds of skin of the structure are sensitive to changes in estrogen, the hormone responsible for estrus (heat).
  • Provides protection to minimize entry of foreign material into vagina.
  • In heat, the vulva will swell and become red, due to increased blood flow, can be useful in estrous detection when coupled with other signs.

Clitoris

  • Highly innervated tissue located in the ventral commissure that is very sensitive to tactile stimulation.

Vestibule

  • Common duct for urine and fetus during parturition.  Functions to stimulate penis during copulation.

Female Internal Reproductive Tract:

Broad Ligament

  • Double layer of connective tissue that originates from peritoneum
  • 3 parts:
    • Mesometrium – the mesentery of the uterus; the largest portion of the broad ligament
    • Mesosalpinx – the mesentery of the Fallopian tube
    • Mesovarium – the mesentery of the ovaries

Functions:

  • Supports and suspends the ovaries
  • Houses the vascular, lymphatic drainage, and nerve supplies

Fornix Vagina

  • Protrusion of cervix into anterior vagina in bovine

Functions:

  • Site of semen deposition during natural mating
  • Secretes copious amounts of mucous during estrus

Vagina

  • Located between the opening to the bladder and the cervix

Functions:

  • Copulatory organ during natural mating in most species
  • Stimulates bull penis via temperature
  • Serves as a birth canal during parturition
  • Highly acidic (pH 5.7) to prevent bacterial infection

Cervix **landmark when palpating**

  • Sphincter-like structure
  • Fibrous, collagenous, thick-walled organ with a small amount of muscle
  • Prominent ridges close together

Functions:

  • Production of mucous during estrous
  • Sealed during pregnancy with a cervical plug to protect uterus against pathogens
  • Serves as a birth canal during parturition

Uterus **landmark when palpating**

  • Composed of body and bicornuate uterine horns
  • Placed of semen deposit during Artificial Insemination

Functions:

  • Sperm Transportation
  • Regulation of Corpus Luteum (CL)
  • Embryo Development & Placental Attachment
  • Parturition and Post-Partum Involution

Oviducts (Fallopian Tubes)

  • Small tubes that extend from the uterus horns to ovaries; infundibulum is also part of the oviduct

Functions:

  • Transports sperm and oocyte via smooth muscle contractions to the site of fertilization
  • Acts to reduce sperm numbers to prevent polyspermy
  • Removes oocytes from the surface of the ovary through cilia (called fimbria on infundibulum)
  • Provides proper environment needed for the oocyte and the early developing embryo

Ovary:

  • Supported by Broad Ligament in the peritoneal cavity
  • Functioning is controlled by pituitary hormones; FSH and LH
  • Ovarian structures very complicated and do many functions over a lifespan

Functions:

  • Produces hormones:
    • Estrogen- from ovarian follicles; brings female into each estrous cycle
    • Progesterone- from corpus luteum (tissue from ovulated follicle); prepares the uterus for pregnancy and maintaining pregnancy
  • Gamete production
    • Development, maturation, and ovulation of oocytes with each estrous cycle

Major parts of male tract:

  • Scrotum
  • Testes
  • Epididymis (caput, corpus, cauda)
  • Vas Deferens/ Ductus Deferens
  • Ampulla
  • Seminal Vesicles/ Vesicular glands (Accessory Gland)
  • Prostate Gland (Accessory Gland)
  • Bulbourethral glands/ Cowper’s glands (Accessory Gland)
  • Urethra
  • Penis
  • Prepuce and Sheath

 

For more information on Beef Cattle Reproduction from the University of Florida, please click here.

For the PDF file, please click here.

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