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Beating the odds: Triplet calves born near Monroe
Carrie Ritschard and Jeremy Davis guide recently born triplet calves from the barn to their calf hutches early Monday morning following their morning work. The rare set of triplet calves, comprised of all heifers, were born June 1 at their dairy farm southwest of Monroe. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - The odds for Winterfresh, Wintergreen and Wintermint were one in 8 million.

The triplet calves, all heifers, were born June 1 to a purebred Holstein named Wizard on the dairy farm Carrie Ritschard runs near Monroe with her partner Jeremy Davis.

Ritschard was gone at a conference in Kansas the day the calves were born, so Davis helped Wizard give birth.

Neither suspected Wizard was carrying triplets.

"I checked for a second one just for the heck of it," he said. And then, "just for the hell of it," he checked again for a third. Sure enough, each time another calf was there and waiting to be pulled out.

The odds of a cow giving birth to triplets is one in 105,000, according to Holstein World. The odds that all three will be heifers is one in two million, but the chance of heifer triplets surviving is just 25 percent. This makes the triplets on Ritschard's farm a one in 8 million occurrence.

Each of the calves weighed 85 pounds at birth, meaning their mom was carrying at least 255 extra pounds by the end of her pregnancy.

"I was so scared of losing one," Ritschard said. But so far the not-so-little calves are healthy, playful and most importantly, haven't gotten "the poops," Ritschard's biggest fear for newborn calves.

It's essentially a three-in-one deal for Ritschard.

"This is awesome," she said.

Wizard is doing well, too. The triplets are her third birth. Winterfresh, Wintergreen and Wintermint have a sister named Wiggles, plus a brother that Ritschard sold soon after he was born.

Ritschard and Davis milk about 70 out of 215 head of cattle on the farm on County B, between Monroe and Browntown. Wizard is their only purebred Holstein.

Milk from the farm is sold to Decatur Dairy for cheesemaking.