A cow gave birth to triplets on the 190-acre farm of Tim and Sandy Shoemaker in Hillsboro about an hour before nightfall Sunday.
Two females and one male were born. The cow and triplets are all healthy. Tim Shoemaker said the odds of a cow giving birth to healthy triplets is less than one in 100,000, and the odds of the cow surviving the ordeal are about one in 400,000.
“It’s a miracle of life, and the live birth is a miracle — just having those three calves and the cow accept all of them,” said Shoemaker. “A lot of times they just have them and take off with one and leave the rest of them to die, but she loves them all, and she took care of every one of them.”
Shoemaker arrived to the field just after the cow gave birth to the last calf. “In the past, we’ve had five or six twins a year, but these are the first triplets because it doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
Shoemaker said the calves were born unassisted. “A lot of times one will be a breech birth, and you have to assist them, but she had them all on her own,” he said.
He said the calves were all fed colostrum after being born. “If they don’t get it, that’s their immune system,” he said. “That’s the first milk that comes out of a cow, and we keep powdered colostrum, and we put that in them, so they’re doing great.”
Shoemaker said eventually the cow won’t have enough milk for all three cows, so he will need to supplement them, but the calves are getting enough from her right now. “We still have a few cows that have calves so if one of those would die we’d try to graft one of those calves on the other cow and let her nurse it and raise it,” he said. “We’ve done that in the past, especially with twins.”
Shoemaker said having a cow have healthy triplets and survive is something that doesn’t normally happen.
“The thing about triplets is there’s so many of them in there, usually they come out and some of their legs take a while to get them straightened out, but these came out perfect,” he said. “It was just like each one of them were a single birth.”
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.