Two-headed calf delivered on local farm


By Barb McKay


Tuesday, Aug. 18 is one for the history books on Prehnbrook Farms.



Local dairy farmer Madison Prehn had quite a surprise when veterinarian Andrew White helped one of his cows deliver a two-headed calf last week. (submitted photo)



Madison Prehn was in the barn monitoring a dairy cow in labour. She was having difficulty so he called local large animal veterinarian Andrew White.


“The calving wasn’t going as well as it should,” White said.


Until that point, there was no indication that there was anything unusual about this pregnancy. But, as White reached into the labouring animal’s cervix he soon discovered this delivery would be nothing like anything he had ever experienced before.


“I felt the third eye and I second-guessed myself. I double-checked to find the neck and there was only one.”


At that moment, White realized the calf had two heads.


“We were pretty shocked,” said Prehn.


White performed a C-section and delivered the female calf. There were other deformaties, White said, and the newborn calf did not survive the birth.


Aside from his experience Tuesday in the barn on Concession 4 near Point Clark, the only two-headed animal White has seen firsthand is skeletal remains on display in university. He is unlikely to encounter another delivery like it. The phenomenon is known as incomplete twinning. An embryo begins to split into two identical twin animals but never completes the process.


The occurrence, White figures, is about one in hundreds of millions. A two-headed calf is on display at the Huron County Museum in Goderich, but it is the only other known incident of incomplete twinning in this region. A two-headed calf born in Peru two weeks ago made international headlines.


Prehn knows, as well, that this is incredibly rare.


“I read that you have the same chance of winning the lottery 14 times,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever see anything like this again.”


He has contacted a taxidermist and plans to have the calf stuffed. It will be displayed at the farm.


“It’s a conversation starter,” he said.