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Dairy cow’s rare triplets are a once-in-a-lifetime surprise for farming family

PUBLISHED: 16:54 24 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:16 25 January 2018

A dairy cow has given birth to triplets at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay. Picture: Frances Crickmore

A dairy cow has given birth to triplets at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay. Picture: Frances Crickmore

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Some very rare arrivals have amazed a farming family near Bungay – after one of their cows gave birth to triplets for the first time in 50 years of dairying.

A dairy cow has given birth to triplets at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay. Picture: Frances CrickmoreA dairy cow has given birth to triplets at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay. Picture: Frances Crickmore

Jonny Crickmore of Fen Farm Dairy said the fragile “floppy” siblings born in the early hours of Tuesday morning had initial difficulties feeding themselves, and would have struggled to survive if not for the care and dedication of the farm’s stockmen.

But he said the animals which brought such an unprecedented surprise to the farm are gaining strength and in good health.

“For us, it is the first time this has happened in my lifetime, and in my dad’s lifetime,” he said. “We have calved thousands and thousands of cows over the years, and never had one set of triplets. My father Graham has been working with them his whole life and he’s 67 now.

“We probably get 10 or 15 sets of twins out of 300 cows in a year. But we never seem to get a third one.

A dairy cow has given birth to triplets at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay. Picture: Frances CrickmoreA dairy cow has given birth to triplets at Fen Farm Dairy in Bungay. Picture: Frances Crickmore

“The calves are all fine. None of them have suckled from their mother at first because they were quite small and probably a bit premature. We have to keep them warm and help them through the first few days.”

At first, Mr Crickmore thought one of the calves had come from a different mother, as it is coloured black and white while its two siblings are red and white – reflecting their cross-bred heritage, with their mother being a cross between a black-and-white Friesian and a red and white Montbéliarde bull. The farm is in the process of changing its whole herd to Montbéliarde cattle because their milk is highly-prized for cheese-making - an important part of the diversified business at Fen Farm, which also sells raw milk.

Mr Crickmore said all three calves – two male and one female – will remain on the farm for the next two years.

“The two bulls will have two grazing seasons and then in autumn 2019 we will fatten them for beef,” he said. “The heifer could go either way – with dairy cows, if you get twins where one is a bull and the other is a heifer, then most of the time the heifer is not fertile. But maybe one in ten is fertile, so we don’t know yet.”

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