THREE rare bull calves are looking forward to taking to the field of play just like their famous namesakes O’Connell, O’Driscoll and O’Gara.
The “three hardy boys” gave farmer Pete Murphy the surprise of his life, when they arrived ‘unexpected’, so to speak, on his Athlacca farm.
“It was a surprise. I thought there might be two in there because the cow was a little bit under nourished looking, she was entitled to be,” smiled dairy farmer Pete who was assisted in the deliveries by vet Bill Carmody, his neighbour.
“We had two out and Bill said he better check again in case there is one for the Leader!,” Pete laughed of the birth of the triplet Aberdeen Angus bull calves O’Connell, O’Driscoll and O’Gara named after the rugby legends.
According to Washington State University’s college of veterinary medicine, experts say triplets are rare, about one in every 105,000 births.
The chances they will all be born alive are about 25 percent.
And the odds of triplets of the same sex are estimated by some to be one out of every 700,000 births in beef cattle.
To make matters even more unusual, the three Athlacca bull calves arrived into the world “backwards” - they were breech births.
“The vet said it is very unusual that the three of them came breeched as well. He was delighted to assist because it was his first time doing it (for triplets),” Pete continued.
At just over a week old, O’Connell, O’Driscoll and O’Gara are all “healthy and happy” according to Pete.
“They are grand - three hardy boys they are,” he said.
And the cow?
“She is fine, she hasn’t looked back since,” he added.
The calves are building up muscle in their pen before taking to the open pastures of Pete’s field in Rathcannon, Athlacca.
And when they grace the sod it won’t be numbers 5, 13 and 10 they will be wearing - the triplets are tagged 0886,0887 and 0888!
County Limerick, it appears, is producing more fertile cows of late.
In April of this year, Tim Shanahan welcomed a set of triplets to his farm in Garryspillane. His four-year-old Friesian delivered two bouncing bulls Jack and Ned and heifer Betsy.
Unlike Pete Murphy, the birth of the calves came as no surprise to Tim Shanahan. He was aware that the Friesian was due triplets after she underwent a scan last September.
“Believe it or not we scan all the cows in September - they are scanned the same as people. According to the man doing the scan, the chances of her carrying the triplets full-term would be very slim,” Tim explained.
Thankfully, the cow - who has yet to be named - did go full-term and just like O’Connell, O’Driscoll and O’Gara, Ned, Jack and Betsy are all “hale and hearty”.