Heifer's triple delivery a joyful rarity

Last updated 05:00 11/08/2014
Ted Cobb's heifer triplets
TRIPLE TREAT: Ted Cobb with the unexpected extra cattle on his farm. 

Relevant offers

Good things come in threes for an Otaki dairy farmer and his heifer. Ted Cobb was expecting his heavily-pregnant friesian to have twins, but the arrival of extremely rare triplets was a first for him and a highlight of his 60 years farming.

"We have had twins in cows before, but never triplets in a heifer. We couldn't believe it when we saw all these calves coming out," Cobb said.

"It's about the same odds as winning Lotto," his wife Jenny added.

Livestock Improvement Corporation said the incidence of triplets in cattle lies between one in 100,000 to one in 700,000 births. Most multiple births in cattle are twins, and the incidence of twins in friesians is about 3 per cent.

The triplets were born on a bitterly-cold wet afternoon nearly three weeks ago on the Cobbs' 600-head Hautere Cross Rd dairy farm. The 2 year-old heifer gave birth to the first two calves no trouble, Jenny Cobb said.

"We knew a third was coming, but it was breech so the farm boys helped it out. They were tiny but perfect."

Knowing their size meant they would not survive the freezing night ahead, the farm boys put the two newborn heifers and one bull, in a shed, cleaned them up and nestled them in a bed of straw.

"They milked the heifer out to give the calves their first colostrum milk," she said.

The heifer was sprightly after giving birth and returned to the herd while the newborns were started on a three-times-a-day bottle regime.

The Cobbs did not usually name their calves but because of the rarity of the triplets their grandchildren had named the bull "Bob" and would name the two heifers before taking them to Te Horo School's upcoming lamb and calf day.

Half the size of normal calves their age, the triplets are thriving, leaping and playing in their paddock. Nearby sheep stared at the feisty triplets which were roughly the same size as them, Jenny Cobb said.

Bob was shy at first but after human handling from such a young age had become very sociable. ‘They butt . . . kick like a little mule and run around like billy-o," Ted Cobb said.

Running free in a fenced paddock during the day, they are locked in a straw-filled shed overnight.

Ad Feedback

- The Dominion Post

Special offers
Opinion poll

Should an employee be allowed to keep their job despite testing positive for cannabis?

Only if it's a first offence

No, they should be dismissed

Yes, if they can perform their job then what's the problem

Not sure

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

Follow us

Contact us Dominion

• Reporters: News, Business, Sport, Features
• Newsroom 0800 366 7678
• Website ideas:
Email or tweet us
• Place an ad: Email or call 04 474 0000
• Subscribe: Email or call 0800 50 50 90
• No paper: Call 0800 50 50 90
Start or stop your paper
• View the Digital Edition
• Make dompost.co.nz your homepage

Family Notices
Deaths - dom

Death Notices

View obituaries from around the region.