SEBEKA, Minn. – A central Minnesota couple is feeling a little like new parents after a rare birth on their farm.
A cow gave birth to quadruplet calves on Chuck and Deb Beldo’s beef cattle farm near Sebeka on May 24 – all tiny, but appearing to be healthy, so far.
The couple is bottle feeding the calves, two females and two males, almost around the clock.
“We are looking for volunteers for that midnight feeding,” Chuck Beldo joked, as the calves nestled into a makeshift shelter on the farmyard.
News reports citing the textbook "Veterinary Obstetrics and Genital Diseases" put the odds of a cow having quadruplet calves at 1 in 700,000. The odds of all four being born alive are much steeper, said to be at 1 in 11.2 million.
It was a “day of birth” for the Beldos for multiple reasons.
They had visited a new granddaughter who was born that day, and had just returned to their farm early in the evening when they saw one of their cows giving birth.
At first, they thought twins, then they saw a third and a fourth calf, all jet black.
A typical calf, Chuck Beldo said, weighs 50 to 70 pounds. The quad calves were each only about 20 to 25 pounds, though have started to fill out some.
The Beldos separated the calves from their mother because they weren't able to feed properly due to their small size.
However, they were able to secure colostrum, an after-birth maternal milk product, from their neighbors who raise dairy cattle. “That was a big part of their survival,” Deb Beldo said.
Now, they're feeding the calves milk replacer about every four hours.
“They're just like any other baby. They get fed, they're tired, and they lay down,” Deb Beldo said.
Living on the farm his great grandparents homesteaded, Chuck Beldo said they have about 120 head of beef cattle, about 50 of which were calving this season.
It was a tough calving season, with cold, snowy weather early on. Twin calves born in April during a late winter storm didn’t survive.
The quadruplets have been a source of entertainment for the couple’s kids and grandkids, and for people around the world.
After posting news of the rare birth on Facebook, “It’s just gone crazy,” Deb Beldo said.
She’s heard from people in nearly all 50 states, and from as far away as Australia.
Cattle farmers don’t typically name their animals because they have so many, and because they’re raised for beef consumption.
However, the couple is looking for input on naming the quadruplets, which may end up sticking around the farm as pets.
While the quads are certainly a curiosity, Chuck Beldo will be glad when they’re out of the woods, health-wise.
“It’s a novelty, but I hope somebody else can have the next experience because once is enough,” he said with a laugh.