FOOTVILLE, Wis. — Wisconsin dairy farmer Steve Case knew his pregnant cow had been acting strangely, but nothing prepared Case for the sight that greeted him when he responded to an urgent bellowing from his barn.
The Holstein had given birth to a rare set of triplet calves Friday afternoon.
"I just about fell over," Case said.
The Footville farmer quickly dried off the calves. Their mother, an unnamed cow identified by ear tag No. 1,150, "did her job getting the first milk into them."
Veterinarian Ray Pawlisch told The Janesville Gazette that few triplet calves are born alive and healthy because there usually are complications. He cited a 2006 study by a University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher who found triplets occur in less than one-third of 1 percent of Holstein pregnancies.
Case said he's had many sets of twins but never triplets in his 33 years of farming. The calves look similar but are not identical, he said.
"I'm glad they're all alive," he said. "It was a total surprise to me."
Case's brother had a set of triplet cows born on his farm in 1981. Case said he's now having ultrasounds done on his other pregnant cows.
"It's just something we would want to know," he said.