Sunday, March 22, 2015

Rare Quadruplet Calves Born in Texas & Other Strange Cow Births

On March 19, 2015, it was confirmed that a heifer in DeKalb, Texas, managed to accomplish the extremely rare feat of naturally birthing four live calves -- all on her own.

The black calves, three bulls and one heifer, were named Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Moo. The rare birth is to the cow owned by Dora Rumsey-Barling and her husband, Jimmy.

The heifer, described by Dora as "just a run of the mill red cow," had been bred to an Angus bull, so all 4 of the calves are black.

“We didn't think she was due, even for one calf,” Dora says.

Buzzards spotted circling over their 100-acre property in the Hubbard community south of DeKalb early Monday afternoon prompted the retired couple to head to a spot about 500 yards from the house. 

That's where she says they found the heifer had already given birth to 3 of the surprise calves.

“We thought that was it. We were excited about having 3!”

But this miracle bovine mother, identified by her #15 ear tag, wasn't done yet.

“She lay down and the fourth one started coming out and we watched the birth of the fourth one,” recalls Dora. “It was really exciting. The adrenaline was flowing with us!”

Twin births aren't all that unusual for cattle, but according to Veterinary Obstetrics and Genital Diseases, the odds of a cow having quadruplets are 1 in 700,000. 

The odds of having all four calves born alive are 1 in 11.2 million.

(Photo: Facebook/Michael Baird)

Neighbor and local veterinarian Michael Baird visited the cow after the birth to help her remove her afterbirth and give her antibiotics. 

He says he's delivered lots of calves in his 18 years as a mixed animal practitioner, including twins, multiples and even a few Siamese twins. But he has never seen anything like this. “This is truly an amazing event if you are into this sort of thing.”

“That's extremely extremely rare,” agrees Dr. Tim Page, a Professor of Animal Sciences at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge. "If it's fully developed, it probably has a real good shot of making it."

"They seem well-developed," says Dora, although all 4 are "just a bit small." The female, Meenie, is the smallest at just 25 pounds. A healthy birth weight is around 75 pounds.

The average gestation period is about nine months -- like humans -- and a newborn calf will weigh about 85 pounds on average. Within a year, they are usually the same size as their parents.

Dora says all 4 have struggled to stand, and while they look fully developed, they have not yet been examined for internal issues.

Two neighboring families are helping to raise 3 of the calves, including one with a Jersey cow who had a calf the same day and is able to provide plenty of milk.

The fourth remains with them and has begun to nurse by himself with his mother.

The Barlings are retired, and only keep about 20 head of cattle. "It's a hobby," says Dora, who grew up on a farm.

"We don't have pet dogs like people love and really dote over. Instead, we've got the cows."

Now, they have 4 more and an incredible story to tell.

"So far everything has gone well. It's really something unique. Never would I have imagined something like this!"

Doing a little research, I found that the last time quadruplet calves were born in the United States took place on a dairy farm in Orland, California, on December 6th, 2012,

Quadruplets in beef cattle are extremely rare. Beef cattle are less likely than dairy cattle to have multiple births,

Rare Quadruplet Calves Born in California

Holy Cow! Quadruplet calves are 1-in-180-million
On a California dairy farm, the stars aligned and mama cow gave birth to four healthy baby cows.

What are the odds of all-girl quadruplet calves being born and actually surviving the birth? At the time, according to the article, it stated that would be 1 in 179.2 million. 

The heifer calves were born on December 6th in Orland, California, and a local veterinarian confirmed they are indeed quadruplets. 

Dr. Michael Karle ran DNA tests using the calves’ hair and learned that two of them are identical twins, while the other two are fraternal.

Dairy farmer John Zuppan told the Chico Enterprise Record that in his 69 years on the job, this is a first. 

Dr. Karle first thought the cow was only having one pair of twins, which is rare enough. 

He said twins are born about 1 percent of the time. So he was especially stunned to see her give birth to quadruplets.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. I just kept looking and looking and looking. I finally came to the conclusion there were four new babies from one cow," Dr Karle told KFSN news.

Dr Karle says each Holstein calf weighed a little less than usual at birth -- only 60-65 pounds instead of the common 85 pounds -- but that they are otherwise in good physical shape.

Mr Zuppan says the rare family of bovine sisters will be raised together, staying on the farm to join the dairy herd when they're older.

As for a very strange cow birth?

A Cow in England gave birth to triplets of different breeds

Back on July 24th, 2010, a dairy cow in England defied the odds to give birth to triplets of different breeds.

Holstein Friesian cow "Coco" delivered three healthy calves without any assistance, which is a 1 in 105,000 chance all by itself.

Even more rarely, two of the calves are from the Belgian Blue Cross breed and the third is a Charolais Cross.

Owner Anthony Gothard, who runs a dairy farm at Stoke St Gregory, Somerset, United Kingdom, said this is because Coco was inseminated using a ''concoction'' of different bulls.

He said: ''We were really surprised because we'd never seen it. There's three generations on the farm now and my grandfather came out to see them because he's never experienced it before. But what's quite uncanny as well as they're two different breeds of calf. Because we artificially inseminate our cattle we sometimes use a concoction of different bulls in the insemination. On rare occasions you might get a pare of twins where one is one breed and one another. What we've got here is two Belgian Blue Cross calves, and one Charolais Cross, which makes it even more amazing.''

Mr Gothard, who has worked on The Old Dairy farm for 20 years, was delighted after Coco gave birth to the first healthy calf – a male Belgian Blue Cross – last Saturday.

He left the new mom to relax with her baby and carried on with work on the farm, where he produces Granny Gothard Ice Cream with wife Natasha.

When he returned later, the farmer was delighted to find she'd calved again with another Belgian Blue -- this time a girl.

Thrilled that his cow had given birth to twins -- that in itself being a rarity in cattle --  he once more left the cow on her own with it's now pair of young to settle down.

About an hour later when he returned to check on the new family, he discovered Coco had given birth yet again -- again entirely unaided -- to a healthy third calf that was a Charolais Cross.

The thrilled farmer added: ''She actually calved one to start with, and she calved by herself, so we thought that was great -- one good calf, one good cow. And then literally an hour later another one popped out. And then again in another hour there was another one there – three babies all delivered by herself.  In four generations on the farm, we've never seen triplets. It's just incredible she calved all three by herself with no problems at all. No help at all. And to have all three fit and healthy and strong is incredible, so our cow's obviously done a very good job.''

Cows do not normally have litters of calves and the chances of having triplets are 105,000 to one, with the odds of having same sex triplets around 700,000 to one.

Experts say a cow giving birth to triplets is a "statistical miracle." To have different breeds at the same time, well the odds are astronomical.

Tom Correa


  1. This is very rare to have four baby calves at the same time this is so cool to see. I love baby calves and these four calves are cute. They must be a joy to raise.

  2. I think Ripley's Believe It Or Not had a two-headed bull in their museum at one time or another. I can't remember where but I'm pretty sure I've seen it.


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