RUSHFORD, Minn. – The Dahl family does not think they will see another day similar to the one they had June 16. 

That hot day in June, Josh and Steph Dahl, along with their three kids, Jaxie, 8, Cashton, 8, and Bricker, 5, welcomed one set of triplets, two sets of twins and two single-birth calves to their 200-cow farm, Dead End Dairy, near Rushford. The triplets and twins were all born within an hour and a half of each other. 

“We probably won’t have another day like that in our life,” Josh said. “It was hectic.” 

While the multiple births in one day is rare for the dairy, having triplets was a first for the Dahls. It also caught them by surprise.

“We didn’t know she was pregnant with triplets,” Josh said. “Normally we check by ultrasound for twins at 30-35 days so it’s early and (the calves are) small. We must have missed this one.” 

The first single-birth calf was born right away in the morning when Josh first arrived in the barn for chores. Other than the new calf that morning, the day was fairly routine until Josh checked the dry cow pen around 7 p.m. He found one cow in the process of giving birth and another that would be ready soon. He decided to stick around to help the second cow because he knew she had twins. What he did not realize was the first cow was also having doubles. 

“As I was helping the second cow, the first cow had popped out a second calf,” Josh said. 

During this time, a third cow made her presence known. 

“I knew she was also calving because she was going from cow to cow, trying to take calves,” Josh said. 

Despite the cow being 10 days early, Josh did not think it was too strange. 

“With this heat, my calvings have been all over,” Josh said. “I’ve had singletons come 10 days early, too.”

With four newborns and another cow that still needed to give birth, Josh went to find help from Steph, the kids and an employee before checking the last cow. He was glad he did. 

“The first calf came out fast so I knew she probably had another one,” Josh said. 

He was right. After the second calf was born, Josh thought the births were done. 

“I half-jokingly said I better check for a third,” he said. “Sure enough, there was a third one. If I hadn’t pulled all three and she would have had them by herself, I would have been looking for another mother. I wouldn’t have believed it because we’ve never had triplets before.”

The family and their employee were shocked and excited for the trio of Holsteins. 

“Everyone was dumbfounded,” Steph said. “Josh was speechless. He was worried about the mom and calves. And it was super hot that night. He was sweating.”

The two heifers and one bull weighed 64.8 pounds, 61 pounds and 51.6 pounds. 

“When they came out, we thought they were huge for triplets,” Steph said. “That’s why I wanted to go get the scale to weigh them.”

The Dahls also had no help from the cow in caring for her calves. 

“She didn’t even pay attention to the calves,” Steph said. “She just went to lick the mineral block as we were all frantically trying to make sure they were all alive. I told the kids to go get beach towels from the house and they helped dry them off.” 

All three were alive and healthy at birth. 

“Thank God we got to her when we did and noticed she was calving,” Steph said. “She wasn’t due, and if it wouldn’t have been for the other ones having their calves out there, we could have missed it and lost all three. It was a good thing those other cows decided to have their twins.”

The rest of the evening was spent getting calves in new pens, bringing in the cows and feeding the newborns. 

“Josh pulled the last calf at 10:30 and we were still feeding calves because we had nine new ones plus the rest of them,” Steph said. “I don’t even know how many bottles we fed that night. It was nuts. It was a late night in the calf barn with all that colostrum.” 

For now, the calves will live at Dead End Dairy until the heifers have been tested to see if they are reproductively sound. 

“The first two were heifers so I thought I really had something with two twin heifers,” Josh said. “And then we pulled the third and it was a bull.”

If the females are freemartins, they will be sold. The Dahls sell all bull calves and any beef crossbred calves born on the farm. 

The 6-year-old fourth-lactation cow that gave birth to the triplets is still recovering as the Dahls try to nurse her back to health. 

Regardless of the outcome of the cow or the calves, the Dahls have lived a day they will never forget. 

“It was hectic, but it’s been exciting,” Steph said.