The birth of a rare three-headed calf on a ranch in Saskatchewan shocks residents
On March 25th, 2023, residents of Saskatchewan were left astonished when a three-headed calf was born on Gordon Willner’s ranch, located west of Davidson. This extraordinary occurrence captured the attention of renowned organizations such as Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not, highlighting its historic significance. Weighing 113 pounds, the red angus calf has received certification from both institutions. However, the prognosis for the calf remains grim. Dr. Olaf Lipro, a large animal veterinarian at the University of Saskatchewan, explains that three-headed calves rarely survive more than a few days.
The birth was unexpected and did not go as planned. When the cow’s due date approached, Willner noticed that something was not right. He reached inside the cow and felt one, then two heads, thinking it was a set of twins. He called for help, and Dr. Lipro responded to the emergency call. After investigating, Lipro determined that there were two heads and decided to perform an emergency cesarean section, his first for a cow. Lipro was stunned when he discovered that the calf had three heads, something he had never seen before.
Lipro checked all three of the calf’s airways to ensure it was breathing. He had to suck the amniotic fluid out of the middle head’s nose, which seemed to hurt. According to Lipro, he used a ᴛι̇ɱ Hortons Iced Capp straw to remove the fluid, claiming that other cattle breeders may want to use the same method in their operations. Farmers should exercise caution when relying on this method, as Twisted Sisters, where he suggests obtaining the straw, remains closed seasonally.
After 48 hours of effort, the calf began to feed on its own, but it needed to be bottle-fed for the first 48 hours when trying to stand up. On the third day, the calf remained stationary, and nursing became difficult because all three heads bumped into each other when trying to latch on. Lipro bandaged the cow’s wound after washing it and quickly pumped colostrum into the calf’s left end because it was having trouble bottle-feeding while lying on the ground. “Then I realized I was never going to get another chance, so I hit the pipe to the right end, too, just to see if I could,” said Lipro.
The birth of a three-headed calf is rare, and it has only been documented a few ᴛι̇ɱes in history. The first ᴛι̇ɱe was in Illinois in 1893, according to the Mattoon Gazette, where a farmer in Lafayette reported a three-headed calf born in the neighborhood southeast and slightly north of the Monroe School Building. Although the outlook for the calf is bleak, Lipro drew attention to Willner’s fortune when he posted a photo of the calf on Instagram, which led to Guinness World Records and Ripley’s Believe It or Not flying into Davidson. The birth of the three-headed calf is undoubtedly an extraordinary event that will be remembered for a long ᴛι̇ɱe.