‘Cow’s’ about that? Double drama as twins to different bulls are born

Sisters share birthday and mother but have different fathers, reveals dairy farmer Simon

A Co Armagh dairy farmer ‘hit the bullsye’, so to speak, after one of his dairy herd gave birth to twin calves - conceived by two different fathers.

Loughgall man Simon Winter says that the baby calves - born a fortnight ago - are just half sisters, with one being a Hereford, and one a Holstein.

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The mother - a British Fresian - was serviced by two different bulls from the Whites’ own stock, and it’s likely that the double conception took place in a matter of minutes.

Simon and his father Mervyn run the Loughgall farm, as did Mervyn’s own father before that.

It’s still a family affair to this day, with Simon’s wife Anna and mum Jean both involved; Doreen actually looks after the calves when they are born.

Simon says the family had been monitoring the pregnant cow on the night in question when she was in the calving pen, via their camera.

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“We could see that she had calved herself, so we went to see that calf - a Hereford - and check that it was OK and give it everything it needed.

“Then I just put my hand inside her to check there wasn’t another calf; there was, and so we started to help her with it.”

Simon says that they change their bulls over for servicing every 12 hours, so this is most likely how the double conception happened.

“We would maybe have the Holstein bulls out at night, and the Hereford out during the day time; she must have gone out after the changeover and was still in heat when she was serviced for a second time.

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“I was talking to the vet last night and he said that it wasn’t too often that this happens, although with Artificial Insemination, it can.

“They’re not identical twins, which happens when one egg splits into two. They were obviously two different eggs.”

Simon said that the Hereford calf would join the rest of the beef cattle, while her twin, the Holstein, would join the milking dairy herd.

And he was happy to confirm that both new additions were doing well, and he had had no difficulties in registering their births with DAERA.

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He laughed and agreed that the recent events were certainly “unusual” but added that on a farm, strange things happened all the time.

The proud mother, meanwhile, is already back out with the rest of the dairy herd, and on this particular Co Armagh farm, it’s a case of back to business as usual!

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