Young dairy farmer Ross Beattie from Ballymoney, Co Antrim, was both shocked and delighted last weekend to discover one of his cows, which was scanned carrying twins, was instead delivering a set of triplets.
Ross farms in partnership with his father-in-law Brian and the pair run 120 Holstein Fresian cows. This is the first set of triplets recorded on the farm.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Ross explained: "We only have three or four cows left to calve. She was scanned for twins, I had her pulled out from the herd, and when I checked her in the middle of the day, I saw she was starting to calve and left her be. I had to assist her with the first calf, which was coming backwards - it was a wee red Fleckvieh."
"The second calf was a fairly straightforward birth. To be honest with you, I never thought of putting my hand in to check for a third, it's very rare."
"After I got the two calves sorted, I went for a bottle of calcium, she is a slightly older cow and I was scared of her taking milk fever.
"My fiance's father was in the yard and he happened to hear the groans out of the cow when he walked in. That was about 15-20 minutes after the second calf. To our amazement, she put out a third calf and another big sack. It was a big supprise, we weren’t expecting to see it."
Two bulls and a heifer
"The first two were bull calves and the last one was a wee heifer, the three of them look totally different as well. They are all 100% healthy, they are in a bedded pen during the day and the cow is also 100% after calving and she is back with the main herd now. She had no setbacks or anything," the farmer said.
"I looked her up and she is about eight years old, she had a set of twins in the past before, but last year she had a heifer calf.
"She was in really good condition for having triplets, I was really surprised. My fiancé Gillian rears all the calves, she works with Dale Farm. Everyone is delighted."
Name the triplets
The Ballymany farmers are now looking for Irish Farmers Journal readers to help name the triplet calves - two bulls and a heifer. You can leave your name suggestions at the link below.