Rare triplet calves born at Ontario dairy farm
Odds of triplets are 1 in 105,000 experts say
A rare birth took place Sunday night in Wyoming, Ont., east of Sarnia. That's where a dairy cow gave birth to triples at Excelsior Farms.
Andrew Deelstra helped deliver the calves — two heifers and a bull.
"It already had its first calf out and by the time I got there it was giving birth to a second calf. The calf came out easily. I thought it was just having twins," said Deelstra, 16, who pulled the second calf from its mother. "I walked away for a few minutes and when I came back I noticed it was giving birth to a third calf."
He helped pull that one out, too.
"I just couldn’t believe it at all. I’ve never seen it. My dad’s never seen it and he’s almost 60 and has been dairy farming his entire life," Deelstra said.
A bovine expert from the University of Guelph said the odds of a dairy cow having triplets are about 1 in 105,000.
Making the birth in Wyoming even more rare — in Canada, at least — is the fact the calves are of the Guernsey breed.
Deelstra said only approximately one per cent of Canada's dairy cattle is Guernsey, or brown and white in colour. Most, he said, are black and white Holstein cows.
On Excelsior Farms, only female cows are named. The two born Sunday have been named Jaguar and Jetta.
"Every year, all our cows get named and we have a theme every year. This year the theme was vehicles," Deelstra said.
The calves also take names that begin with the first letter their mother's name — in this case, triplets were born to Jamaica.
Deelstra said "there's not a big chance all three will survive."
"Potentially the two heifers will be unable to reproduce. We can’t have them milk if they can’t reproduce," Deelstra said.
The farm could pay for an expensive blood test to more immediately make that determination but Deelstra said they will probably wait it out. They should know within a year if the heifers can produce milk.
If they can't, "they’ll be raised for a few more months [after that] and be sold for meat."