A COW is to be genetically tested to try to find the answer to its record-breaking fertility.
Ger Kirby, a farmer from Ballyneety, Co Limerick, is hopeful his "unique" Friesian will be included in the Guinness Book of Records after the cow produced an amazing 16 calves over four pregnancies.
The Guinness Book of Records states that the most live births for a cow in a single birth was five calves, or quins.
Mr Kirby's seven-year-old cow produced four calves (quads) in 2009 followed by five calves (quins) in 2010.
In 2011, she gave birth to twins, and amazingly she produced another set of quins last month.
To put the remarkable series in context, the odds of a cow having triplets is less than 0.5pc.
"It's absolutely fascinating. I've trawled through the literature on this type of thing and this cow is unique in all records around the world," said Dr Dan Ryan of CowsDNA.com.
Unfortunately a sixth calf didn't make it through the birth last month.
"They're all doing fine and are healthy out. Everything is spot on," Ger said.
"She's going to have her genes tested to see if we can find out what's behind it all. She's the only cow in the world to have given birth to five calves twice."
The calves have proved a big hit with Ger's children, Ronan (10), Alan (9) and Ruth (5). "They love coming out to see them and feeding them," he said.
Ger now plans to leave the cow with the latest five calves to enjoy a long retirement.