For Washington hay broker and rancher Scott English, seeing a set of twin calves isn’t an uncommon occurrence during calving season, but he was in for a surprise on Feb. 20 when one of his 7-year-old Angus-cross cows gave birth to quadruplets.
In fact, it’s so rare that quadruplets only occur in 1 out of 700,000 births, and four live, healthy calves only 1 in 11.2 million.
English and his wife Kimberly own English Hay Company, which handles hay brokering and trucking, and they also run 1,500 cow/calf pairs. They also feed all of their own cattle and have a contract with Tyson Fresh Meats, as well as growing corn silage and high-moisture corn.
The hay business gave them an opportunity to expand into cattle in 2007. When they were expanding their herd, English bought a group of cows in southern Idaho and brought them back to Washington, then bought more land for the herd after those cows had calved. English saved all of the heifers out of those cows and bred them the next year.
That’s when an interesting trend started to take form in the herd.
“Out of 125 replacement heifers 17 of them had twins. This cow goes back to that original herd. There’s something there in the genetics that those Idaho cows are a bit more prone to have more than one calf,” he says. “A pretty typical year for us, running 1,500 cows, we’ll often have 25 sets of twins, and they primarily come out of that group of cows or their offspring.”
The calves, which were sired by a Sim-Angus bull, are doing well. The three heifer calves are being bottle fed, and the bull calf remained with the cow, English says.
“I give a lot of credit to my crew, Eliseo Quintero, Margarito Campos and Robert Jensen, for recognizing what was going on and getting the calves on the ground and keeping them alive. They did all the right things,” he says.