Veterinary college helps cow deliver triplet bull calves

Mar 20, 2009
by WLJ
Veterinary college helps cow deliver triplet bull calves
Senior veterinary students and faculty assisted in the delivery of triplet bull calves recently at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. (l-r) Kelly Sandmeier, Jess Zelnik, Dr. Martha Delaney, Sara Manthey, and Jillian Saldana. —All photos by Henry Moore Jr., WSU/BCU

In what is a St. Patrick’s Day statistical miracle, a registered Red Angus cow has given birth to triplet bull calves at Washington State University’s (WSU) College of Veterinary Medicine.

Here’s how the numbers work out. From literature dating back to the 1920s, cattle experts say triplets are rare, about one in every 105,000 births. The chances they’ll all be born alive are about 25 percent. And the odds of triplets of the same sex are estimated by some to be one out of every 700,000 births in beef cattle.

All three calves were positioned in a dangerous breach presentation and required the assistance of three WSU veterinarians and five veterinary students for delivery. All the calves weighed between 36 and 41 pounds apiece. The dam and her calves are resting comfortably and are expected to thrive.

“No one person here takes credit for this delivery,” said attending veterinarian Martha Delaney. “It is always a team effort. We work together.”

“That’s pretty cool,” said owner Josh Dykes of Pasco, WA, when told he was the owner of three new bull calves. “We knew when she was due and last night, she didn’t look very good. I thought she might die. I’m glad to hear she’s alright.”

The cow’s registered name is AKO Misty Jewels 707T and the sire by artificial insemination was Feddes Big Sky R9. Misty was purchased last fall at a Montana sale as a bred heifer, meaning this was the first time she had been pregnant.

Misty was brought to WSU veterinary college by Carl Lautenschlager, a partner and manager of the Dykes Cattle Company located in Endicott, WA. The operation runs about 150 head of registered Red Angus cattle.

Over the years, Lautenschlager said he’s dealt with numerous sets of twins and once had another set of triplets that all died, a common outcome with triplets.

In 2006, triplet calves were born naturally not 30 miles away in Potlatch, ID, although they were not all of the same sex. The birth occurred on a ranch owned by an employee of WSU’s veterinary college.

The bulls are known by numbers 1, 2, and 3 right now based upon the sequence of their delivery and pending a registered name. One person who has seen them has suggested they be called Saint, Patrick, and Day to commemorate the holiday they were born on. — WLJ