Shown with quadruplet calves born on March 31, 2017 are (left to right) Ryan Knipfer and Dennis Beckman holding his granddaughter Hadley Weber.
Shown with quadruplet calves born on March 31, 2017 are (left to right) Ryan Knipfer and Dennis Beckman holding his granddaughter Hadley Weber.

From True Dakotan newspaper

Wessington Springs, S.D. resident and Broken Heart Ranch hired man Ryan Knipfer had no idea what he was getting into when he brought an eight-year-old cow that was calving into the barn to take a closer look. 

“When I was out feeding the cows that morning I saw she had started,” said Knipfer. “So when I went back at lunch and saw that she hadn’t made any progress, I knew it was time for me to help.” 

After bringing her into the barn, located at the farm south of Wessington Springs, he pulled a heifer calf that was sideways. 

“I felt another one, but we have about 8-10 sets of twins a calving season so it was pretty normal,” he said.

After pulling the second calf, a bull, he checked again and was shocked to find another calf. 

“I couldn’t believe it,” Knipfer said. “I had heard about the triplets that Mohling had and didn’t think I’d ever see that first hand.” 

Last month, the True Dakotan reported that a local cattle operation welcomed rare, healthy triplet calves when a heifer had one bull and two heifers at the Mohling farm south of Wessington Springs.  Cory Mohling said he and his father Keith, haven’t ever seen triplets out of a heifer.

Knipfer said that after pulling the third calf, another bull, he thought to himself, ‘what are the odds’ and reached in to discover a fourth, healthy live calf.

He immediately called Broken Heart Ranch owner Dennis Beckman and started the conversation with, “You’re never going to believe it…”   

Beckman said that quadruplet calves are unheard of. “And being the day before April Fool’s Day I had my doubts,” Beckman laughed. “Low and behold there were four. I know one thing, I won’t live to see another set of quads in my lifetime.” 

Knipfer said each of the calves were in their own sack and that he had to break each one.

As for the mother, she’s doing well and is able to keep up with feeding the calves on her own for now.

While researching the incidence of multiple births when covering the Mohling triplet story, the True Dakotan reached out to SDSU Extension. At press time, questions regarding the incidence of quadruplets weren’t yet answered.

According to Taylor Grussing, Cow/Calf Field Specialist at SDSU Extension, because of the very small incidence of triplets in cattle, it is difficult to give an accurate estimate for the probability for triplet births in cattle.  Likewise, the incidence is affected by several factors, primarily genetics, nutrition, and management.   

Beckman said he hasn’t changed feed rations this calving season and that the mother of the quads hadn’t had any multiple births in previous years.

One thing is for sure, healthy quadruplets are welcome when it comes to the bottom line in the current ag market.

“With these four, I might break even in the cattle market,” he laughed.  

Reprinted with permission of True Dakotan newspaper.