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Triplet calves defy odds

By Cassie Kuhn

For the Enquirer

When the Faulks’ Angus heifer went into labor June 8, the family was preparing to welcome a new calf into the world. Instead, they found themselves welcoming three.

Adding to the rarity of the event, the triplets are all female and were born without any apparent health issues. Kristy Kelly, who owns the farm in Hartselle where the calves were born, said triplets are often born with health defects. “As far as we can tell right now, they’re all healthy,” she said.

Triplet calves are highly unusual.

“This is extremely rare, and there aren’t many statistics on it because of it,” said Kim Mullenix, an assistant professor at Auburn University and an extension specialist on beef cattle production systems. “It is considered a once-in-a-lifetime event, and the odds are about 1 in 100,000 that this would occur. It is especially rare that all three are alive and healthy, which is great news.”

Andrea and Jacob Faulk raise livestock with Jacob Faulk’s mother and stepfather, Kristy and Matthew Kelly, at the Kellys’ farm in Hartselle.

“We live in Somerville with our toddler, Barrett,” Andrea Faulk said. “We go to the farm just about every day to take care of cattle or our horses and give horseback riding lessons.”

While most cattle farmers will go their entire careers without experiencing the birth of twin or triplet cows, the Faulks and Kellys only had to wait a couple of years.

“We’re really new to raising cattle and only a couple years into it,” Matthew Kelly said. He said the first-time mother was bred with a neighbor’s Limousin bull, who was the No. 1 bull at the Kentucky Beef Expo.

“My daughter-in-law, she’s the one who discovered it. It’s quite exciting because it went from a text saying, ‘I think she’s having twins,’ to ‘Oh my gosh, there’s another one,’” Matthew Kelly said, adding the mother has accepted all three babies. “A lot of times, mothers won’t take to all three, or even take to twins, and you wind up bottle-feeding them.”

“One of my friends said that we needed to name them Snap, Crackle and Pop,” Andrea Faulk said. “They would definitely have to stay around and be mamas and not be sold if we named them.”

Kristy Kelly said the two families have about a dozen cows total. “We both have cows here; we have cows, and they have cows. This happens to be their cow, unfortunately,” she joked.

The Kellys’ farm is located in the Cedar Cove community in Hartselle. Andrea Faulk owns Cedar Cove Equestrian Center, where she gives horseback riding lessons.