A Co. Roscommon farmer got a surprise when he went out to tend to a calving cow this summer; by the end of the night, there were triplet calves sitting up, hale and hearty.

The pure-bred Simmental cow – after Seepa Tee Jay (IS4) – had given birth to triplet calves sired by the Charolais bull Fiston (FSZ); two bull calves and a heifer.

The farmer in question – Trevor Kelly, from Castlerea, Co. Roscommon – has a herd of approximately 20 suckler cows.

Trevor spoke to AgriLand to explain his surprise.

“The calves were born on Friday night, June 29, at 3:00am. The first two were born when I went out. There was one on the ground; she had him calved about a half hour and she had him licked – and the second one she had just calved.

Then for some reason – I knew she was carrying twins, but I didn’t know she was carrying triplets – I put in my hand to see would she be carrying another one and there was one coming backwards, so I just caught his two back legs and pulled him out.

Enlisting the help of his uncle with a quick phone call, Trevor moved the cow and calves from the paddock where they had been into a nearby shed with a good bed of straw. Within a few minutes of this, the farmer was able to ensure each calf got an adequate drink of colostrum.

Image source: Tricia Kennedy

Trevor noted that, in the first day or so, he gave colostrum and milk replacer to the calves; but since then the cow has been rearing them on her own, though both cow and calves are getting a good supply of concentrates.

“The cow has them reared; she’s getting a lot of nuts morning and evening and they were eating crunch when they were about 10 days old and they were picking at hay and that, but since they were born she’s rearing them herself.

“I had them in an agricultural show on August 5 and we weighed them; the cow was 650kg that day and the calves were 175kg between them.

“So they were 825kg between them and that was six weeks after the calves were born.

We weighed them again when we were dosing them two weeks ago; the heifer was 120kg, one of the bulls was 124kg, and the other was 130kg – so they had put on around 1kg/day since I had them in at the show.

Barring one calf getting a slight touch of scour prior to the show, the calves have been virtually no hassle, Trevor asserted.

With the cow going to the bull in the coming days, the cycle is set to kick off again; there’s no talk of triplets this time – yet!