Offaly farmer Jim Kirwan had to check he wasn’t dreaming this week, when one of his cows delivered two calves of different breeds in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Jim’s wife Grainne saw one of his 70-strong herd of Friesian cows give birth to a Friesian heifer just past midnight on Tuesday night, and minutes later Jim helped deliver its twin - a Hereford bull.
“I never even heard tell of the like of it,” Jim told the Offaly Independent. “Only I saw what happened I would have taken a lot of convincing.”
Twin calves are themselves a rare occurance, but what occurred this week on Jim’s farm at Taylor’s Cross is more unusual again. The step-siblings both share a mother, but were fathered at almost the same time by two different bulls that Jim runs with his diary herd, leading to two eggs being fertilised and carried to term.
Grainne explained that she saw the first Friesian calf being born from their house thanks to a camera installed in the shed the couple use to house cows that are near their due date.
“I kind of thought she was still uneasy,” Grainne explained. “When I went out and looked I rang Jim from the yard. When he delivered the second calf it was a Hereford. He had to stand up and look at the two of them again. Only that we saw both of them we’d have been looking for another cow.”
Usually twin calves of differing genders lead to infertility. Jim said he’s still in the dark as to whether the same rules apply given that these twins don’t even share the same breed.
“It’s a new one on me, and I’m milking cows for the last 37 years,” he said.
With now a particularly busy time on the farm the twins haven’t been given names. However Grainne says they’ve been referring to them as “The Phenomenons”.
Both are doing well, but Grainne said she’s a bit concerned about what the Department will think when she tries to register them!