David and Julie Ingram, beef cattle farmers, were amazed when their purebred Hereford cow delivered quadruplets in May. This extraordinary event came after the cow had previously given birth to twins the previous year. The Ingrams, who were no strangers to multiple births, had witnessed 12 sets of twins in 2018 and eight sets in the current year.
Expecting twins, the couple was surprised to find not two but four calves. Two heifers and two bull calves were born prematurely, raising concerns for their health. Despite the early delivery, the resilient cow exhibited remarkable mothering instincts and managed to care for two of the calves. Worried that the calves might not survive the night outdoors, the Ingrams brought them to a shed near their house.
After a week, the healthiest calf continued to stay with its mother, while the Ingrams undertook the hand-rearing of the other three, referred to as “poddies,” to ensure their survival. These three calves were closely monitored in a private paddock for six weeks before being integrated into the rest of the herd. Unfortunately, the two bull calves encountered birthing complications and had to be euthanized.
The unprecedented occurrence of quadruple birth caught the attention of veterinarian Peter Alexander, who has been practicing in the Bega Valley for over 40 years. Dr. Alexander emphasized the rarity of such an event, noting that although he had heard of cows giving birth to quadruplets, it remained exceptionally uncommon.
Expressing concerns about the cow’s fertility, the veterinarian questioned whether the surviving offspring might be “freemartins” with compromised reproductive tracts. He elaborated on the challenges posed by multiple births, explaining that they could lead to difficulties in the mother’s pregnancy and potential health complications for the calves, often resulting in premature births.
Nevertheless, the Ingrams remain committed to ensuring the long-term health and reproductive capabilities of the cow. At just over four years old, the cow has already given birth to six calves, showcasing remarkable fertility and defying expectations in the realm of beef cattle farming.