On Sunday, 14-year-old Tianna Valerio thought her champion-winning cow was going to give birth to either one very large calf, or maybe twins, but certainly not triplets that were all the same sex.
But, that is exactly what happened.
Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, Tianna and her father, Jerry Crum, gathered around her 4-year Grand Champion cow for about 30 minutes to deliver the calves.
“The first one came out normally, but the second one came out backwards,” Tianna said. So they had to go in and pull the second one out, only to find a third calf still on its way.
“It feels like a dream. I never would have thought my cow would have three babies,” Tianna said Monday afternoon, as the young calves stumbled around the family’s Silver Spur Ranch in Picture Rocks.
Though barely two days old, the baby bulls walked around, playing with the family blood hound dog, meeting with a half-sister cow, and nudging their heads into people’s legs, hoping to get more milk.
Tianna is currently in her sixth year of being involved with her 4-H club and goes to school at Marana Middle School.
According to Tianna’s mother, Kristine Crum, who runs the ranch, the odds of a cow giving birth to triplets is one in about 250,000. She said the odds of all of the calves being the same sex is one in about 750,000.
Two of the baby bulls, Spade and Dallas, came out weighing 51 pounds; the third, named Peewee, weighed 45 pounds. The normal weight for a baby calf is 90 to 100 pounds.
That night, the calves spent the night in doors in the house to keep them safe and warm. Due to the mother being a champion cow, the family milks her and then feeds the milk directly to the calves. This is done partly to keep the cow’s udders undisturbed and partly for portion control – they want to make sure Peewee gets enough milk, being the smallest.
The baby bulls consume about 10 pints of milk per day and will feed on that for at least two months before they are weaned.