Last Monday, March 25th, DAVIDSON—Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not arrived on Davidson to confirm the birth of a three-headed calf. On Gordon Willner’s farm west of Davidson, the tricephalic red angus cross calf was born at 2 a.m. It was 113 pounds in weight. Before the momentous occurrence, it had been just another day on the farm during calving season. The cow was being watched since she was due to calve at any moment. As her due date approached, it became clear that the delivery was not going as planned. Willner slipped his arm inside the cow, concerned, and felt one, then a second head. He requested aid, assuming it was a pair of twins.
The plea for assistance was answered by Dr. Olaf Lipro, a big animal veterinary medicine resident at the University of Saskatchewan. He arrived at the property and conducted an investigation, concluding that two heads were there. He opted to do an ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ ᴄᴇsᴀʀᴇᴀɴ section after the delivery did not progress. It was Lipro’s first time performing an ᴇᴍᴇʀɢᴇɴᴄʏ C-sᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ on a cow. He stated he did one approximately three weeks ago on a pug who couldn’t birth her pug/Rottweiler puppies. “That went really well,” Lipro continued, “so I figured pulling these twins out of Gord’s cow should be a piece of cake.”
After administering a local anesthetic to the cow, Lipro carried out the surgery as described in his textbook. He grabbed the second hind leg and hooked it to a calving chain before pulling it out with a powerful tug. The calf refused to move. He was taken aback by how tough it was to get the calf out. He remarked that the pug/Rottweiler puppies came out readily. With time running out and the cow’s life on the line, they needed to move rapidly to bring the calf out safely. Lipro yanked on the shackles as hard as he could. The calf finally ʙʀᴏᴋᴇ loose. He was surprised to see what he believed was the first calf of a set of twins was really a three-headed calf when he drew it out of the ᴜᴛᴇʀᴜs.
“I was totally gob smacked,” Lipro explained. He’s heard of two-headed calves being born before, but never a three-headed calf, he claimed. His initial reaction, he added, was to get out his iPhone and publish it on social media. Then he recalled he needed to get back to work. He examined the calf’s airways, all three of them, to ensure that it could breathe. One of the heads, the center one, appeared to be in ᴅɪsᴛʀᴇss. Lipro said that he had to clean the amniotic fluid out of the animal’s nose. Some others use a piece of straw, but Lipro claims he learned a new technique. He claims he sucks the troublesome fluid out of a nostril using the straw from a Tim Hortons Iced Capp.
Other cattle farmers may wish to utilize this strategy in their cow-calf farms, he added. In a pinch, he added, a Twisted Sisters milkshake straw might suffice. Farmers should be wary of depending on this, as Twisted Sisters is still closed for the season. He shifted his focus to the cow when he got the calf breathing. He patched up her ᴡᴏᴜɴᴅ after cleaning it. Lipro quickly tubed colostrum into the calf’s left head because it was lying on the ground and having difficulty sucking a bottle. “Then I realized I would never have another chance, so I tubed the right head as well, just to see if I could.”
The calf began sucking on its own after 48 hours of struggle, but it needed to be bottle fed for the first 48 hours as it struggled to stand. It was able to stand by the third day. Nursing became difficult due to the fact that all three heads collided as they sought to latch on. The calf’s prognosis, according to Lipro, isn’t good. A three-headed calf seldom survives more than a few days, while a two-headed calf rarely survives more than a few days. “Only time will tell,” Lipro stated. Although one was born in Illinois in 1893, it is possible that this is the first three-headed calf in history.
The following item appeared in the Mattoon Gazette on January 13, 1893, from Mattoon, Coles County, Illinois: “As we go to print, a Lafayette farmer reports a three-headed calf born in the neighborhood just southeast and a little north of the Monroe school building.” He asks that his identity be kept hidden so that the guilty individual might be brought to justice.” …whatever it entails.
Guinness World Records and Ripley’s came flying into Davidson when Lipro posted a photo on Instagram, according to Lipro. He apologized for drawing so much attention to the Willner property. Lipro said, “I let my ego get the best of me.” “As soon as I noticed it was a tricephalic calf, I started thinking about how I might utilize it as a thesis topic for my PhD under Dr. Newt Scamander at the College of Large and Unusual Animals at veterinary medicine,” says the author.