Linda and Don Savjord witnessed a rare experience last week when one of their cows gave birth to three heifers.
The cow, a Belted Galloway called Kari, was in the big pasture at Bridge Creek Ranch when she delivered her first calf at about 10 p.m. April 27. As she licked the calf clean, Linda suspected Kari might be having twins because she was still so big.
Sure enough, when Don went to check on her around midnight, another heifer had been born. He returned to the house, thinking they might have to move Kari and calves to a smaller pen. Another check and he found not two but three of the “oreo cookie” calves. All heifers.
“This is very unusual,” Linda said.
The couple decided to move Kari and the heifers, but when they went back they could only find two calves.
“We searched and searched and searched,” Linda said. “We thought ‘was Don hallucinating?’ We got the two in but didn’t find the third one until morning, on top of a ravine, curled up under a ledge. We missed her in the dark.”
At first, they wondered if the small heifer belonged to another member of their small herd of seven. But none of them seemed to have given birth or took an interest in the calf. They moved her to the smaller pen with Kari, who instantly bonded with her.
Kari, who is 12 years old, spent the winter on “reasonably priced” hay before hitting the grass this spring. She was one of a herd the Savjords bought 10 years ago. She has calved every year but never had triplets - until now.
Don, who is the ranch manager at Bridge Creek Ranch, noted cows having triplets is a one in 100,000 occurrence. Triplets of the same sex and all of them surviving is one in 400,000.
“It just seems crazy to me,” he said.
Linda noted the one calf, which is mostly black appears to be the firstborn. She has been feeding the other two heifers bottles of colostrum to make sure they get enough to eat. She has named them Jazmine, Jill and Judy.
“They all want to nurse at the same time, which is a challenge,” she said, but added it’s exciting to see them all together. “We’re so proud.”