Tahlequah Daily Press

December 5, 2013

Twins again for 018

Celebrity bovine has given birth to eight sets of twins – an unusual feat

Staff Writer

LOST CITY — Cherokee County’s twinning cow has done it again.

The cow, known as 018, has become a bit of a local celebrity as a frequent bearer of twins, a rare happening in the bovine world.

“Her last two births have been singles,” said Chester Bailey, a farmer and owner of 018. “But over her lifespan - she is about 12 years old - she has given birth to eight sets of twins.”

A cow with a propensity for twinning possesses an inherited trait. Bailey said he has not yet examined the calves closely to determine their genders.

“When she gave birth to the calves, I did care for the one she left,” Bailey said. “She usually will leave the scrawnier calf and keep the other that can keep up with her. I took care of it for a couple of days until it had the strength to stay with the mother. Then the mother accepted both of them. But I’m not sure if they are mixed or both heifers.”

Non-ranchers may wonder what is difficult about telling a male calf from a female. The calves are only a few days old, and making the distinction requires close inspection beneath the tail - and sometimes, it still isn’t obvious.

Bailey said it will be important to identify the sex of each calf once they are a bit older.

Twin heifers are identical and can reproduce. When the twins are a male and a female, the female is sterile and known as a freemartin, or martin heifer. They often display steer-like behavior. They are of little use to ranchers, but are sometimes used in the study of immunology.

Ten percent of heifers born with a male twin are normal and viable.

“One of [018’s] heifers also gave birth to twins,” Bailey said. “I have marked all her offspring; each has a notch in an ear. So I know which cattle on this farm are hers.”

When 018 is about to give birth, Bailey said, she is closely monitored.

“When [018] first gave birth, she went to the farthest end of the field where we couldn’t see her,” Bailey said. “She had a twin, but she left one and we didn’t know. I eventually discovered she had a second calf. Now I put her in this large pen anytime she is about to calve.”

Bailey, 79, was born on the family farm in a log cabin. He is running the farm after spending much of his life away from this area. He purchased 018 among five head from his son.

The cow first belonged to Bailey’s mother, Edna. It was she who first called attention to the twins of 018. She died in September 2012 at age 97.