1/14/2013 2:47:00 PM The reward of triplet heifers Molitors welcome second set of triplet heifer calves in 10.5 years
Mitchell (left) and Mandy Molitor (right) welcomed their family’s second set of triplet heifers calves in 10.5 years on Nov. 20, 2012, which also happens to be Mandy’s birthday. PHOTO BY ANDREA BORGERDING
by Missy Mussman
WATKINS, Minn. - For most dairy farmers, triplets are extremely rare let alone having triplet heifers, but for the Molitors this was not their first time. "These triplets heifers arrived 10.5 years to the date from the last set," Laurie Molitor said. "The first set of triplets were born on May 22, 2002, and this set was born on Nov. 20, 2012, which is our youngest daughter Mandy's birthday." Laurie and Ron Molitor have been milking 27 years and currently milk 130 Holsteins with a few Red and White Holsteins and Crossbreds in the mix. They have four children; Shannon (24), Travis (21), Mitchell (14) and Mandy (13). When the first set of triplet heifers were born in 2002, the Molitors had no idea they were expecting multiple births. "I went out there to assist the cow, and the calf that came out looked awfully small," Molitor said. After the second calf arrived, she still was questioning if there was going to be another. "Normally I don't check for a third calf," Molitor said. "I don't know why I did, but those first two looked awfully small, and surprisingly the third one came after." All three of the heifer calves that were born in 2002 survived to adulthood. One of the heifers did not breed back and the other two were in the herd for two lactations. In 2002, Shannon and Travis were old enough to remember the experience of having triplet heifers, but Mitchell and Mandy were only 3 and 4 years old at the time. Fast forward 10.5 years later. One of the Molitor's cows that had calved with twins the lactation before was now pregnant going into her fifth lactation. After several months she lost the pregnancy, and Ron and Laurie decided to use a young sire, and she ended up settling. After six weeks, the Molitors did an ultra sound and found out she was pregnant with triplets. "We were in question if we wanted to continue with the pregnancy after the vet explained that the outcome might not be a good one," Molitor said. "We didn't want to do any thing yet and told the vet we were just going to think about it." After sharing the news with their two youngest children, Mitchell and Mandy, the kids were very excited about the idea. "The kids looked at us and said 'You have to keep it!'," Molitor said. "We knew the cow was used to multiple births, so we decided go through with it for the kids." The Molitors decided to dry off the cow and give her a three-month transition period. "For us, the three-month dry period was the ticket," Molitor said. "It allowed her to handle the multiple births better and gave us more to work with after she calved." As the due date got closer, Mandy and Mitchell were getting anxious for the arrival of the triplets, checking on the cow almost nonstop. The morning of Nov. 20, two days past the due date and Mandy's birthday, Laurie drove Mitchell and Mandy past the cow to check on her and didn't see anything, so she dropped the kids off at school and ventured home. However, when she came back, she saw one of the calves had been born. "I ran to the house and grabbed my coat, and told Ron that one of the calves were out," Molitor said. "When we checked the first calf, my first response was 'oh my gosh, it's a heifer.'" The second calf came with no assistance needed, and it was a heifer as well. The third one was a little more difficult coming backwards, and low and behold, it was another heifer. Even though they were triplets, Molitor was surprised at how big they were. The calves weighed approximately 85 pounds each at birth. Afterwards the Molitors washed the calves up and made sure they were all doing well. "We knew we had to call Mitchell and Mandy because they are so active on the farm," Molitor said. "I texted Mandy, and within 30 seconds the phone was ringing." "I could hear Mandy screaming over the phone," she said. "She asked me 'Mom are you serious?', and I told her yes and that she had to tell her brother." Since the birth, all three calves have been doing well and have taken off like any other calf. Their neighbor, who owns a larger dairy than them, was very surprised. "He came and told us that he couldn't believe we had another set of triplet heifers," Molitor said. "He mentioned they have never even had one and they are a larger dairy than we are." With the kids being very active on the dairy and showing cattle at the Stearns County fair, they are anxiously waiting to see if they will be show material. "If the kids feel they are show material, you better believe they will be in the show," Molitor said with a smile. The Molitors are very excited that all four of their children have been able to experience having triplet heifer calves. "It was a very profitable day for us," Molitor said. "How many kids growing up on a farm are able to experience something like this?" Shannon, Travis, Mandy and Mitchell will now be able to say they have had two sets of triplet heifers, something they will remember for the rest of their lives.