LEROSS, Sask. — Benjamin Brinkman saw that Cow 46 was getting ready to calve.
He had been told it was likely she would have multiples. In the last five years, she has had 16 calves, although not all survived.
But he wasn’t quite prepared for what happened on March 26 at Moxham Farms, where he is spending 10 months as an international exchange student from Germany.
“I saw that she started to calve,” he recalled last week. “She had her first calf and then I saw a foot coming. I said, ‘let her do it’. ”
After the second calf, he decided to check the cow and discovered a third. The calf was out of position so Brinkman helped with the delivery.
He checked again and there was a fourth.
“I was surprised,” he said. “I helped her again, the calf dropped and stood up and was happy.
“This was amazing.”
He checked again, relieved to find no more.
For owner Carman Moxham, away from the farm at the time, the trip home was made in record time.
He knew that given the cow’s size and history she would have more than one calf but the sight of four live babies has been something else. Pictures of the cow and her calves have been shared around the world on social media and he has done numerous media interviews.
Trixy, Dixy, Moxy and Ben (yes, in honour of Moxham) are likely the most famous calves in Canada this spring.
Like most newborns, they require a lot of care and attention. Moxham and Brinkman take turns around the clock to make sure they are properly fed.
Moxham had frozen colostrum on hand, and another cow that lost her calf has been helping with nursing, particularly Trixy.
The four add considerably to his herd of about 50 cows and 25 feeders.
“All the cattle have been raised from cattle that were originally my dad’s and my mom’s,” he said.
In fact, Cow 46 has been renamed Dot in honour of Brinkman’s mother, Dorothy.
Dot is a Charolais-Red Angus cross bred to a Gelbvieh bull the old-fashioned way.
This is the second calf crop from the bull that Moxham went to for smaller, healthier calves that would be quick on their feet.
The quadruplets weighed in at a total of 217 pounds. Trixy weighed 41 lb., Dixy 55 lb., Moxy 56 lb. and Ben, the last to emerge, weighed 65 lb.
“I just had a hunch,” Moxham said of separating her when sorting cows in December.
Dot got to spend nights in the barn and received a special feed ration.
“She had the best of everything,” he said.
His other cows did well through the record cold February thanks to exceptionally good silage and hay, he said.
Now, the curious calves already want to leave the barn but Moxham isn’t ready to let them go just yet.
“I don’t want to risk losing them or one getting hurt because they tried to suck the wrong cow,” he said. “These calves and this cow will be together all summer.”
Still, raising beef is a business and hanging on to all of them for the long-term likely isn’t in the cards.
Dot will stay but the odds are against her female calves because often when multiple births include both sexes the females are sterile. But Moxham has a soft spot for them and will give them a chance.
“I’ll give them four years,” Moxham said. “A lot could happen in four years.”
Brinkman, meanwhile, would gladly take Ben home to Germany, if he could.