A nine-year-old pedigree Holstein Friesian cow has given birth to a healthy set of triplets, bringing her total number of live calves to 14 in eight years.

The cow, which belongs to the Doonmanagh herd of west Kerry farmer John Galvin, gave birth to two males and one female naturally on February 20.

Sired by a Munster Bovine Hostein Friesian bull, bred on Galvin’s farm, the calves were conceived through artificial insemination (AI) early last year.

Image: John Galvin

The cow herself has previously given birth to three single calves, four sets of twins and now a set of triplets.

This marks the cow’s fifth time having multiple births. She previously gave birth to three singles in 2016, 2017 and 2019 before she had four sets of twins in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

John said that she has a calving interval of 369 days, which he is “very happy about” as it is below the national average.

According to Galvin, both the cow, who is classified as EX, and her calves are “doing well and are strong”, and he hopes to put her back into calf again this year.

“She had an easy enough time calving, they [the triplets] didn’t knock much out of her. She’s milking away and she’s still strong,” he said.

He added that aside from calving, the cow is good for production and that milk recording data shows she has produced 4,258kg of milk solids in seven full lactations.

Image: John Galvin

“I’ve gotten fond of them now, they’re cheeky little things,” said Galvin, who explained that he plans to keep the three for about a year, before making a decision on what he will do with them.

However, he said that unfortunately, the female calf “isn’t worth much” as she doesn’t have the capacity to reproduce, a challenge that can accompany a multiple birth of mixed sexes.

“I’m farming all my life and I’ve only seen it two or three times that they can [reproduce],” Galvin said.

Despite this, John reports a great year and said they have had “good births, with 90 to calve and about 72 gone already”.

Right to left – John Galvin with his son John Michael and the new arrivals. Image: John Galvin

The Doonmanagah herd will be familiar to many due to the well-known AI bull Doonmanagh Seville, which was bred on the Galvin’s farm.

He was the most-used dairy AI sire in 2022, accounting for 4.2% of all AI-bred progeny that year