Surprise siblings: Barstow’s Longview Farm cow has rare triplet calves, all who survived birth

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Staff Writer
Published: 8/6/2023 10:40:01 AM
Modified: 8/6/2023 10:39:48 AM

Holstein triplet calves Nichelino, front, Novara, left, and Naples on Friday afternoon that were born recently at Barstow’s Longview Farm.

HADLEY — Each weighing just 35 pounds or less at birth, but getting bigger each day, Nichelino, Naples and Novara are among the newest heifer calves at Barstow’s Longview Farm.

While numerous calves are being raised in the calf barn at the dairy farm in the Hockanum section of Hadley, what has made their arrival special is their being triplets, an extremely rare phenomenon, only the second time a cow at the farm has given birth to triplets, and the first time all three have survived birth.

On Friday, eight days after their birth, the heifer calves are continuing to get special attention, their own carved out extra space in the calf barn, where they share an automatic calf-feeder stall, ensuring they get adequate nutrition, about 1½ liters of formula every four hours, but not too much that they will get sick.

Diane Barstow, as a self-described farmer’s wife, volunteered to monitor the newborns and visits at least three times a day, sometimes having to give encouragement to the calves to get them to the computer-controlled calf-feeder.

“The goal is to have them go in when hungry,” Barstow said on Friday, as she entered their space to check on them. “Each day they’re allowed a little more.”

Previously identified only as 606, 607 and 608, taking their identities from the tags on their left ears, they now have the names of Italian cities as a nod to their mother, Trieste, who delivered them on her own and with no assistance from the farmers.

Barstow said the names were suggested by Dylan Barstow Manz, with the farm’s naming protocol being that the first names of calves born in the second half of July are to begin with the letter N. Dylan Barstow Manz suggested Naples for one of the triplets, then Denise Barstow Manz chose Novara and Diane Barstow suggested Nichelino.

Denise Barstow Manz, a seventh generation farmer who handles marketing and manages education at the farm, has publicized the calves’ arrival.

“The calves are doing quite well considering their size,” Denise Barstow Manz said on Friday. “They’ve needed some additional care and attention, some electrolytes, etc., but they are doing well now.”

Born on July 27, the following day the Facebook page for Barstow’s Dairy Store and Bakery began updating the public with photos of the cows, two of which are predominantly black, and the third mostly white, though as Diane Barstow observes, they are “remarkably similar.”

“Three times the cute here at Barstow’s Longview Farm! Yesterday we welcomed TRIPLETS to our herd!” one Facebook post states. “Mama and all three heifer (female) calves are doing well.”

It wasn’t all that unusual to have twin heifer calves, as the farm has about 600 cows and births are taking place throughout the year as a way to ensure that milk is always being produced. Though Trieste delivered her calves two weeks early, the third calf still came as “a big surprise,” Diane Barstow said.

The farm has cited statistics showing that having three heifer calves could be as rare as one in two million births.

The typical Holstein dairy calf weighs around 90 pounds at birth, so the calves are less than half the normal size, not much different from a preemie human baby. Diane Barstow said the expectation is the calves, though still thin, will get to a normal weight and eventually become part of the cows milked at the farm.

Initial updates on Facebook have focused on the calves’ activities.

“We left the feeder gate unlocked last night and before we checked in this morning, 607 had already eaten her entire breakfast and 606 was in process. When she was done, Diane Barstow entered the pen and 608 got up and followed her to the feeding station like she was the Pied Piper!”

“Good nutrition and care is just what they need, like all of our calves, for the right start here on the farm!”

Diane Barstow said the triplets come as a bright spot in a summer where the farm is anticipating that up to a quarter of the field corn that will be harvested in September, and be used as a component of the feed for the cows, may be lost due to flooding. The extent of damage, even using drones to survey it, is not yet known, she said.

Read this article on the Gazette website. 

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