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Saturday 23 September 2017

Gallery: Wonder cow delivers miracle triplets

Shane Fitzgerald and his dad John with the triplet calves born on the family farm in Portlaw, Co Waterford. The dam delivered the calves - two bull and one heifer - herself and all are thriving says Shane. The chances of triplet calves surviving are
Shane Fitzgerald and his dad John with the triplet calves born on the family farm in Portlaw, Co Waterford. The dam delivered the calves - two bull and one heifer - herself and all are thriving says Shane. The chances of triplet calves surviving are "extremely rare" says Farming Independent veterinary columnist Tommy Heffernan. Photo: PJ Browne
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

Waterford farmer Shane Fitzgerald had an amazing start to the calving season when one of his cows gave birth to hale and hearty triplets.

And what is even more amazing, is that the wonder dam calved the triplets herself.

Shane, who farms at Portlaw with his father John, had housed the cow in a straw-bedded shed because she was lame. However, he switched her to a nearby slatted house because he was doing maintenance work in the bedded unit.

"I was only at the other side of a wall from her but I never knew she was calving until I heard one of the calves," he explained.

He couldn't believe his eyes when he reached the slatted shed to find three healthy Holstein-Friesian calves - two bulls and a heifer. "It's amazing they all survived, and that they're all healthy," Shane commented.

The calves were 10 days premature and only as big as "medium-sized dogs" but Shane got three litres of colostrum into them shortly after being born and they have thrived since.

And how about the dam? "She's thin enough. It took a lot out of her," he said.

The Holstein-Friesian cow, which Shane described as "real quiet", is in her fourth lactation. The calves are by the popular sire Maestro.

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Shane and John, who milk 160 cows in partnership, are unsure what they will do with the calves - but they have ruled out selling them.

"It's a great boost to get at the start of the calving season. These are the days you farm for," Shane said.

Wicklow-based vet Tommy Heffernan described triplet calves surviving as extremely rare. "Over the last 15 years I have calved three sets of triplets and none survived," he said.

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