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A mooving story: Rare triplets born to cow on Hoskins, Nebraska farm
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A mooving story: Rare triplets born to cow on Hoskins, Nebraska farm

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Triplet calves

COVID-19 played a role in the birth of rare triplets, named Moe, Curly, and Larry, to a cow on a northeast Nebraska farm.

LINCOLN — COVID-19 had a hand in the birth of rare triplets to a cow on a northeast Nebraska farm.

The pandemic led to a big drop in cattle prices. So rather than sell off a cow that didn’t bear a calf as planned this spring, Hoskins farmers Bob and Kita Andersen opted to keep the mama cow and see if she’d accidentally been bred by a bull while grazing on corn stalks last fall. The gestation period for a calf is about nine months.

Cowabunga, not only was cow No. 836 pregnant, but on July 27, she delivered a surprise: triplet calves, which occurs in only 1 out of about 100,000 bovine births.

“It is truly amazing,” said Kita Andersen, whose family runs a cow-calf operation on a farm northeast of Norfolk that has been in her family for three generations.

The mother cow, a black Angus, has delivered more than one set of twins — also a rarity — over the past decade. And when Bob Andersen first saw No. 836 in the pasture, he counted only a pair.

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But later, when the couple checked again, a third calf was lying alongside the mother.

“We’re awfully glad we decided to keep her around,” Kita Andersen said.

The survival rate of triplets isn’t great, maybe 50% to 60%, but the trio needed only a couple of days of bottle feeding before mama took over.

Andersen said the triplets, named Moe, Curly and Larry, are doing fine now, spending most of the day under a fan in the shade of a livestock barn. Their mom is feasting on a special feed to increase milk production.

The triplets, meanwhile, have become local celebrities.

“Just like any grandma, I take photos every week,” Andersen said.

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