Twin calves on the dairy farm.


This last Saturday we had a super special delivery! The cow stork brought us a set of twin heifer calves. Thanks to the technology of Ultrasound and our veterinarian we knew ahead of time that this cow would be having twins and that they would both be heifers. Just like in humans twin births add a degree of risk to a pregnancy and extra care. On Friday night the cow in question started to show signs of calving right around milking time. I pulled on the long glove and checked her cervix dilation to see how close she was to pushing. At the time she was only dilated slightly so I let her rest in our big maternity pen and came back to check on her before bed. At 11 PM she was restless but still not ready to calve. I went home and set my alarm for 3 AM. At 3 AM there was still nothing, but I checked her dilation again and the position of the calves to make sure there wasn’t a hold up from the calf end of things. She still wasn’t ready at 3 AM so I went home to bed for a few more hours of sleep.

Fast forward to the next day at about 4 PM (or later the same day, I guess). A quick check on her before I headed home for a little bit showed that she was in active labor. It was time for these calves to be born! When a calf is born it should be born with it’s front feet and head first, like this.

Cow birth diagram

A calf with one or both legs back, it’s head down between it’s front legs, coming back legs first or butt first is going to have a difficult if not impossible time making it out of the cow. With a set of twin calves you have 2 heads and 8 legs to have all tangled up when it comes time for the calves to make their entrance into the world. Chances of a cow having two live calves on her own without complications aren’t great so farmers watch the cows closely and step in to help the cows and calves out.


When I reached in and checked the position of the first calf, sure enough, I found a set of back legs where front legs and a head should have been. Thankfully I was able to secure obstetric chains around each leg and working with the cow’s contractions we were able to pull out a live heifer calf! As soon as the first calf was settled into the straw  I checked the position of the second calf, again a pair of back legs greeted me. Again I was able to get the obstetric chains onto the second calves legs and pull out another live heifer calf!


Cute but slimy!

Thankfully this cow is an older cow and is a very big girl. She and the babies are doing well. If you’re interested in checking out what happens to dairy calves after they are born click HERE for my post on baby calves.

While we are glad that these two heifers are here and are healthy we would much prefer that our cows never have twins. Twins can be hard on our cows and the complications after delivery can really set a cow back. Our new mama got some antibiotics to help her ward off infection and some additional vitamins to help her recover. In cows and in humans twining runs in families. Cows that were twins tend to have twins as well. When a cow has twin heifers it’s the best situation, heifer calves are usually smaller than bulls and the smaller the calf the easier it is on the cow. Also when a cow gives birth to a bull and a heifer calf about 90% of the time the heifer calf will be missing parts of her reproductive track and will never become pregnant which means she will never be a milk cow. A heifer born twin to a bull that is in the that 90% is called a Free Martin. The bull calf in a mixed set of twins or born twin to a bull will be normal.

So our two new heifer calves are all settled into their calf hutches and are nice and warm with their calf blankets on but they still don’t have names! So, dear reader, I turn to you. What would you name these two sisters? Their mother’s name is Tastee so their names have to start with a T. They are sired by a bull named Coldspring.

This is the first calf that was born. She needs a name!

This is the first calf that was born. She needs a name!

This girl was born second. She needs a name!

This girl was born second. She needs a name!


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26 Comments on Twin calves on the dairy farm.

  1. Gloria Moss
    December 31, 2012 at 3:17 pm (7 years ago)

    Taloola! 🙂 Yes! lol. Tootsie, Texas, Tipsy, Thelma, or Tequila, but since they were born on my brithday, I think you should name one Taloola or Tallulah. lol. 🙂

    • Gloria Moss
      December 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm (7 years ago)


      • Gloria Moss
        December 31, 2012 at 3:18 pm (7 years ago)

        The bottom one, she’s adorable! 🙂

    • Lesley
      December 31, 2012 at 3:46 pm (7 years ago)

      I like Tootsie!

  2. beth
    December 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm (7 years ago)

    Love your fb page and blog. My four year old Dorothy picks most of the names for our girls. Dorothy is named after my grand mother, Dorothy. A wee lil gal whom passed last January. She was born in Scotland and immigrated to the US with my mom, Margaret and aunt Carol in 1951. I name most of our beef cattle. One older cow i call Dot (named for the dot on her head). I have named all her calves after siblings and other loved ones if my grandma. We have Gert, Jean, Maude, Greta, George, Bruce, and Jackie. Just thought i would share for ideas for you in the future. Now onto ideas for the twins. Coldstone (great ice cream shop), and Sprinkles.:)
    Happy NewYear

  3. Lesley
    December 31, 2012 at 3:44 pm (7 years ago)

    Twinkle & Twinkie

  4. Susie
    December 31, 2012 at 3:57 pm (7 years ago)

    Twinkles, Tania, Tansie, Telli. Congrats on the twin heifers!

  5. countrylinked
    December 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm (7 years ago)

    Awwwww!!!! So cute Carrie! I was going to suggest Jean and Jayne after me and my twin sister, but saw that they have to start with a T, so how about Tea-Cold and Tea-Springs.

  6. Christina Hobkirk
    December 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm (7 years ago)

    Lucky little girls to be born healthy! How about Tipper and Talla?

  7. Karen
    December 31, 2012 at 6:34 pm (7 years ago)

    I like Tallulah too! Trista, Totty, Tia, Talia, Twinkie is current events!, Tina and Toni, Trina, Trinity, Tippecanoe sp? And Tyler too. Wasn’t that a presidential candidate team way back when? Tulsa or Tennessee like Reese Witherspoons baby. Tulsa is on tv in the Liberty Bowl right now. I’m so not creative. Good luck!

  8. Darleen
    January 1, 2013 at 4:05 am (7 years ago)

    I love Mama’s Tastee name! How about Treat for one of them? Can’t go wrong with a Tastee Treat! 😉 And saw Twinkie mentioned above, they sure are Tastee too! Congrats on the healthy girls, that is the best outcome! Hope Tastee recovers well and quickly, I hate twins for our Ladies! :-/

  9. Three Cedars Irish Dexters
    January 1, 2013 at 7:26 am (7 years ago)

    Thank you so much! I’ve been looking everywhere for that illustration! This is our first go-round with babies, two due end of April and beginning of May. And I’m a train wreck!

    • Ginny Miles
      April 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm (7 years ago)

      I have dexters in FL. We had twin girls last week on our farm (Ya Reckon Farm ) and haven’t come up with names yet. Will be a week old Tuesday and they are solid black.

  10. Iain Robson
    January 2, 2013 at 9:03 am (7 years ago)

    How often do your cows have twins? Is that a common thing?

    Names for them could be. Twinola, Twinerly. I am bad at naming 😀

    Happy new year as well.


    • dairycarrie
      January 2, 2013 at 12:23 pm (7 years ago)

      Twins aren’t rare by any means but the far majority of pregnancies are single births.

      • Iain Robson
        January 2, 2013 at 12:57 pm (7 years ago)

        It is good to hear that many pregnancies are single. I can’t imagine having to deal with multiple twins.

        Have you had any experience with others types of bovine like yaks or bisons?

  11. J. Rhoades
    January 2, 2013 at 11:06 am (7 years ago)

    Looks like you already have a ton of name suggestions! I know what it’s like to worry about how the calf is positioned. I’m glad you were able to get the chains on and get them out without problems – they are too cute!

  12. Abby Sterner
    February 14, 2013 at 1:10 pm (7 years ago)

    I love your blog, congrats on the twin heifers! At the farm where my cows live there were triplet heifer calves born back in November. They were all delivered without any assistance. The cow looked huge in the dry pen, however the vet had not said she was having more than one on the ultrasound. We were thinking possible twins. Boy were we surprised when she had three 40 pound heifer calves! they are growing and doing well. The mother cow got some special treatment to get her feeling better after calving. She joined the milking herd with the other cows but sadly she was recently lost do to a leg injury similar to Ripp’s.

    • dairycarrie
      February 14, 2013 at 1:13 pm (7 years ago)

      Wow, congrats! It’s pretty amazing she was able to have them without help. My husband’s uncle had triplet heifer calves born several years ago and they all made it to. Pretty neat!

  13. Dawn
    February 16, 2013 at 12:11 am (7 years ago)

    how about Tori and Tessa for the twin calfs names

  14. Debbie
    February 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm (7 years ago)

    I say Tillie for one and Tinker! They are too cute!