The North Bend Eagle

Jim Minarick halters his cows to get them used to his presence from the very beginning. Grayson, left, gave birth to her triplet sons, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Oct. 18.

Twins and rare triplet calves born on Minarick farm

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 11/2/17

Jim Minarick has a small herd of Angus cattle to keep his pasture trimmed down. Every year he breeds his cows with a neighbor’s bull with calving planned for the fall. This year he had unexpected results with two cows having twins and one cow having triplets.

“It’s kind of unique,” Minarik said. “Especially with only eight cows. It’s not like I have 200.”

Authorities agree that triplets are very rare, especially in beef cattle.

The cattle reproductive specialist at University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte, Rick Funston, cited a 1920 paper that said triplets happen in beef cattle once in every 105,000 births.

“It’s not common,” Funston said. “Twins are more common. And it’s more common in dairy cows than beef cattle. There really hasn’t been much research done on triplets.”

Saunders County beef systems extension specialist Cristen Ulmer agreed triplets in cows were pretty rare.

“Maybe it was in the genetic lineage,” Ulmer said.

Minarick said that in the 34 years of his cow herd, he has had two other sets of twins with only one pair surviving. This year’s experience may lend credence to Ulmer’s genetic theory.

Grayson, the mother of the triplets, is the daughter of Emily, who had twins Oct. 17, the day before the triplets were born. (Making the triplets the nephews of the twins, if you’re drawing out a family tree at home.) Another set of twins was born Oct. 24, but they were stillborn.

Minarick is not a full time farmer. He and his family have lived on 40 acres northwest of North Bend since 1983. His eight children all did 4-H with animals on the farm, and now his 11 grandchildren are enjoying the farm. They have an annual “family farm weekend” when everyone comes out to enjoy the country living. The triplets (and twins) were the highlights of this year’s weekend.
Minarick is busy with his Webster Well business so his cows are pretty much on their own.

“The triplets were born in the pasture,” Minarick said. “The cows have to be pretty self-sufficient because we aren’t around a lot.”

Two of the triplets have white faces while the third, the smaller calf, is all black.
Minarick has taken the smaller calf and successfully “grafted” it to the cow who lost the second set of twins so as to decrease the demands on Grayson to nurse three calves.


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