Somerset cow gives birth to triplets, defying 1-in-100,000 odds

A cow at Yeo Valley's Holt Farm has given birth to healthy triplets.

Somerset farmers Tim and Mary Mead were shocked when their cow gave birth to triplets — one heifer and two bull calves — last week.

Five-year-old Lakemead Barbara 201 defied the 1-in-100,000 odds to produce the healthy trio, who were sired by Skyhigh Lord.

She had only had one calf previously and farm manager Jon Wilson had no idea that she was carrying triplets.

‘They were half the size of an average single calf and weighed about 15kg each,’ said. Mr Wilson. ‘She is a very special lady indeed.’

The National Farmers’ Union of Wales estimates the chance of triplet calves being born is one-in-100,000.

Yeo Valley was founded at Holt Farm, Blagdon, in 1961, with just 35 cows. The farm breeds its own British Fresians, which they say are are well-suited to their grazing.

Against the odds

The Yeo Valley calves are not the only bovine triplets you may have herd of…

  • In April, triplet simmental calves were born at Carsgoe Farm in Caithness, Scotland. The trio were said to be thriving despite the first being delivered in a breached position. Local cattle-breeding inseminator Willie Mackay described the event as a ‘statistical miracle’.
  • In January, a cow in Benenden, Kent, gave birth to identical triplets, at odds of one-in-700,000. The farm was prepared for twins following a scan, but the arrival of the third calf took them by surprise.  The calves were named Edith, Agnes and Margo after the sisters in the film Despicable Me.
  • Two years ago, a farmer in Brinkworth, Wiltshire, welcomed triplet calves for the second time in three decades. In 1983, Joe Collingborn’s cow, Nugget, gave birth to three calves — little did he know, 34 years later, another of his cows would be doing just the same. In November 2017, Nell gave birth to triplets, two heifers and a bull calf. The trio remain at the farm, the male became a breeding bull and the heifers joined the dairy herd.