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.
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.