Seeing Double: Family’s surprise as three sets of twin calves are born on farm

A Glarryford farming family have been seeing double with three sets of twin calves born in recent weeks.

By Joanne Knox
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 3:32 pm

Indeed, in the five years that they have had their pedigree Stabiliser bull, Ollie, the Russell family have seen five sets of twins born on their farm.

The commercial cows making up their 60-head suckler herd now include a mixture of Stabiliser, Hereford and Charolais crosses.

One of the Hereford cross cows was bought by 21-year-old Rachel Russell as a bucket fed calf out of Ballymena Market in 2011.

Sign up to our daily Farming Life Today newsletter

Pedigree Stabiliser bull, Ollie

This particular cow has produced 10 calves so far, with the first set of twins born in 2020 – two bull calves.

When she calved earlier this week, Rachel was surprised to discover a second set of twins from this cow, a bull calf and a heifer.

“It might be in the genes,” Rachel told Farming Life, “so there might be a good few sets of twins to come down the years from her heifer calves.

“Her daughter, born in 2017, is Charolais bred.

Rachel's Hereford cross cow she bought from Ballymena Mart

“She is a third calver and has had five calves in total, with her first set of twins born in 2021.”

The family got the ‘surprise of their life’ when this cow had yet another set of twins recently, two bulls.

“We will definitely be keeping an eye on this one in the future,” Rachel said.

“Her half sister from the same sire was born in 2016.

“Again she is Charolais bred with her mother being a Blue.

“She’s a real tank of a cow and has just had her first set of twins, which were bull calves.”

While they were good sized calves, only one from each of the three sets of twins survived.

Rachel, who was born and raised on the family farm, admitted they are now “sort of expecting” more twins to appear.

“There are a couple of them looking quite heavy,” Rachel continued.

“We don’t scan but we maybe should. Not to see if they are in calf, but to find out how many they are carrying.”

The six-year-old pedigree Stabiliser bull, bred by Richard Hood from Broughshane, has now moved on to pastures new.

“Ollie is away to Ardglass to another herd,” Rachel explained.

“He is a really good bull, I can’t say anything bad about him.

“We bought a new Simmental bull around three or four weeks ago, so we will see what he does.”

Rachel works at John McElderry’s in Ballymoney but as soon as she gets home from her day job, she heads outside to the farm.

In the past, it was a mixed beef and dairy enterprise before the decision was made to focus purely on the suckler herd.

As well as the cattle, however, Rachel has a small herd of goats to keep her on her toes.

“The goats came along when I was 13,” she explained.

“We started out with two goats and now we have 10!”

The Glarryford farm is very much a family affair and they will need all hands on deck with more calves (sired by Ollie!) due.