A few weeks ago, Dave Black realized his cow had given birth on the family’s farm on Old Highway 50 in Clermont, a working farm dating back to 1899.
The 75-year-old Black, who has nearly 30 years in the cattle business, then realized he was seeing something he never saw before. The cow was nursing not one, but two calves.
“I couldn’t believe she had twins and neither did all the old timers (fellow farmers) around here,” he said. “It’s an exciting thing to have happen. I’ve never seen twins born to any cow I’ve had or known. You look at the size of those calves and you can’t believe she was actually able to carry both of them. She’s not a very big cow.”
Black also said that in researching cow births after the fact, he found that only 1 out of every 1,000 cow births result in twins.
Megan Brew, who is a livestock agent with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Tavares branch, said that cows having twins is a somewhat uncommon in that about 1 to 7 percent of all cow births results in twins.
Brew also said there are other unique things associated with cow births when it’s twins, including that if the twins are one male and one female, the female will usually be sterile.
“When it’s two female calves born as twins, they will both be able to reproduce but when it’s one male and one female, the female usually is sterile,” Brew said. “It has to do with hormonal interference during total development. The uterus is influenced by male hormones, causing an improper imbalance of hormones and what most of the time, ends up meaning sterility.”
Brew said there are ways cattlemen can check their cows via rectal exams to know whether they are having twins but most, she said, don’t because it’s not too usually threatening for the mom and babies, like it is when the same occurrence happens with horses.
With horses, she said, a multiple birth usually ends up killing the mom horse, one or both of the baby fowls or all three, so in the case of horses, some cattlemen check for twins because of the health related dangers.
In Clermont however, perhaps the newest set of baby cows in the area, are nearly three weeks old and doing well, as is the mom.
Meanwhile, Black, still awestruck, has assumed the role of a doting dad, carrying around pictures and showing them to anyone who will look and listen.
A former biology teacher, coach and athletic director of Clermont High School, Black has not named the twins because he said he plans on selling them at the Webster Flea/Farmer’s Market soon.