Ralph, Kelly and Matt Oberle’s cow-calf operation, just north of the Montana border, expects to have about 1,400 births in a typical calving season, but this season has seen a small uptick in numbers. The first set of triplets was born late last week. Grandfather Ralph Oberle says that first set was also the first triple-birth for the farm.
“It was pretty unique when Matt phoned me and said we have triplets, because that had never happened on the farm. So, it’s a highlight of the farm.”
Then, on Wednesday Kelly and his son Matt were helping a cow give birth that was suspected of carrying twins. They were in for another surprise
“When the first one hit the ground, my son went in the back, and we got the second one. And we kind of joking said, lets go see if there’s a third one, and there was a third one.”
Triple-births in cows is extremely rare, and that’s probably a good thing. Triplets, and even twin calves, tend to be small and frail, with mortality and still-birth events high.
Veterinarian Mark Campbell says Saskatchewan’s cold winter weather is tough enough on a big, strong, single-birth calf. Still, Dr. Campbell says triplets are so rare they do get your attention.
“I’ve been a veterinarian for over 30 years and I’ve only seen triplets a handful of times. So, to have two in the same week, on the same farm, is almost unheard of. Often, they’re a lot smaller and these cold temperatures can wreak havoc on a normal calving, let alone little triplets.”
The calves and their mothers are grade-Charolais cattle, a large cow breed that tends to be an easy-calver, and that’s worked to their benefit. Calves and mothers doing fine so far.