So I posted this photo at the end of my post yesterday, I got a few concerned comments, and I love it. I gotta go a little AgNerd on ya and say that placentas are kind of intriguing. How can something that forms from nothing provide an environment for a developing fetus, act as the lifeline for 9 months, be ruptured at birth by a soft hoof, and better yet cause so much trouble when parts are retained after parturition? And even better the cow will eat her placenta after giving birth to keep predators away. What still puzzles me is how is the placenta digested by the cow and what nutritional value is there? The thoughts that roll through my head as I am tagging calves each morning…

I had to do a little research for ya’ll and according to my Animal Reproduction Physiology book:

The placenta is a transient organ of pregnancy that provides an interface for metabolic exchange between the dam and the fetus. Placentas are described morphologically according to the distribution of villi on the chorionic surface and the degree of separation between maternal and fetal blood. The placenta is a transitional endocrine organ that produces hormones responsible for: 1) maintenance of pregnancy; 2) stimulation of the maternal mammary gland and 3) promotion of fetal growth.

In layman’s terms…

  • The placenta provides an environment for the developing fetus within the uterus of the cow
  • During gestation materials necessary for fetal development (gases, water, sodium, potassium, calcium, glucose, amino acids, etc.) cross the placental membrane
  • Placentas are classified by attachment to the endometrium by chorionic villi
  • Attachment takes place at different points in gestation for different species
  • Hormones originating from the placenta include: equine chorionic gonadotropin, human chorionic gonadotropin, progesterone, estrogens, placental lactogen, and relaxin
    • Take note: Are some of these naturally produced hormones similar to the hormones producers are accused of implanting for promotion of growth/production?

Hopefully you learned a little something from this. If not, maybe I stirred up a little conversation by posting a picture of me holding this nasty pink thing from the inside of a cow.