'Shocking,' rare two-headed calf born

Sean Ellis/Capital Press<br /> This two-headed calf born April 10 at the 3-B Livestock ranch in Emmett, Idaho, had no other visible abnormalities.

University of Idaho professor: 'You don't see many of them'


Capital Press

EMMETT, Idaho -- An extremely rare two-headed calf with no other visible abnormalities was born at the 3-B Livestock ranch in Emmett April 10.

Ranch owner Sonia Branch said she has seen plenty of newborn calves in her life but nothing like this one.

"It's shocking," she said about the calf, which was delivered by foreman Teryn Henderson and died quickly. "I've seen calves that are deformed but I've never seen anything like that in my life."

Other than an extra head, Henderson said, the calf looked normal and lacked other visible abnormalities that are common in such deformities.

"If it didn't have that extra head, you couldn't tell the difference between it and any other calf we've got," said Henderson, who plans to have the calf stuffed and mounted at his home.

"There's nothing wrong with that calf," said Doug Brock, who is building a new fence for the ranch and witnessed the incident.

"Well, actually, I can't say there's nothing wrong," he added with a laugh. "But other than that (extra head), it's totally normal."

Henderson worked all night trying to deliver the animal and thought he had twins, which made the task more difficult.

"When I reached inside of her, I felt there were two heads, so I'm pushing one head back and trying to get the smaller calf out first, but it wasn't working," he said.

"He had a dumbfounded look on his face. He thought he was losing his mind," Brock said. "When you have twins, you just push one back and pull the smaller one out. But in this instance, he had one set of feet and both heads were trying to come with it."

James England, a veterinarian who visited the 3-B ranch to see the animal, said calves with two heads are rare and those types of calves with no other abnormalities are extremely rare.

"You don't see many of them; I can guarantee you that," said England, a professor at the University of Idaho's Caine Veterinary Teaching Center in nearby Caldwell. "There routinely are lots of other abnormalities in there."

England said the abnormality was likely caused by a failure of twins to develop fully.

"I really think it was a twin; that the embryo started to split but quit for whatever reason," he said.

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