Are bechoros given to Kohanim today? How does it work? Assuming the Kohen is not in the food business, what does he do?
Barry Epstein, Dallas, USA
The Mishnah at the end of Shekalim (8:8) states that the Kedushah of Bechor applies even today.
However, it is not given to a Kohen when there is no Beis ha'Mikdash. Rather, the Shulchan Aruch rules that it is left to graze until it becomes blemished (and shown to three Talmidei Chachamim to confirm the blemish), and then the owner may slaughter it and eat it himself. (See Shulchan Aruch, YD 320)
Today, however, when a mother cow is expecting her firstborn calf, the widepsread practice is to sell a share of it to a non-Jew. In that way, the Kedushah of Bechor does not take effect, since the cow is partially owned by a non-Jew.