New Brunswick·New

Holy cow! Rare heifer triplets born in Fredericton

A New Brunswick dairy cow has beaten the odds by delivering healthy heifer triplets, according to one Holstein group.

Dairy cow Celia delivers Faith, Hope, Love

The calves only weighed about 45 pounds each, about half of a single-birth calf. (CBC)
A New Brunswick dairy cow has beaten the odds by delivering healthy heifer triplets, according to a U.S.-based group of Holstein enthusiasts.

Celia gave birth to the three calves, which weighed a combined total of about 54.4 kilograms, at a farm in Fredericton just over a week ago.

The chances of a cow having triplets, all female, and all alive, are about one in eight million, Holstein World's website states.

"What are the odds of having triplets? One in 105,000. What are the odds that the triplets are all heifers? One in two million. What is the per cent of triplet births where all three are born alive? Twenty-five per cent. What does that mean? There was a one in eight million chance that this could happen."

The triple delivery took the farm's owners by surprise.

"The vet said she was pregnant, but he didn’t indicate that she had triplets…. But Mother Nature works as it works," said farmer George Bourque.

"Out of the 50 years, this is the first time we had triplets. All heifers. You have twins, but triplets are rare, especially from a natural process of breeding."

His wife, Julia Bourque, recalls the day.

"George and I both went with a wheelbarrow because there was a lot of mud, so we put the little calf in the wheelbarrow and wheeled it to the barn," she said.

"About an hour after, I was still here feeding my calves, and I checked on the cow and I saw there was a big bubble [the birth sac] coming, and I saw a little hoof in that big bubble.

"A little while later, [their son] came back and delivered the other one."

The calves – named Faith, Hope and Love – each weighed about 20.4 kilograms, about half the weight of a single-birth calf.

They are not identical triplets. The first one has one spot, the second one has two spots, and the third one has three spots.

Their personalities aren't alike, either, according to the Bourques.

Love is shy, Hope is steady, and Faith charges forward every chance she gets, they said.