Two-Headed Calf Born
CINCINNATI (AP) _ Dairy farmer Ralph Schweitzer says that from the neck back, a two-headed calf born on his farm five days ago is just as healthy as any other animal.
But the Holstein calf does not have the strength to hold up the weight of two skulls, so it cannot nurse.
Schweitzer and his father, Chester, whose farm is near Sardinia in southwest Ohio, aren’t sure what to do.
″This has been a year for odd things,″ said Dr. Andy Purdy of Sardinia, the veterinarian who delivered the calf Sunday by Caesarean section. ″Last month, one of my cows had triplets, which is very unusual, and now they have a two-headed calf. I saw one once years ago, but it was born dead. This one’s still alive.″
The Schweitzers are trying to interest a veterinary school in obtaining the calf for research. The elder Schweitzer said he and his son cannot take care of the calf and their 300-acre, 300-animal farm.
The black-and-white calf cannot stand, the Schweitzers said.
The calf appears to have two complete faces, with the eyes and tongues apparently working together. Purdy said he believes the calf has two skulls on one neck.
″Well, its a nice, big healthy Holstein calf,″ Chester Schweitzer, 71, said. ″It’s awful strong in the legs, but it just don’t seem to be able to have the balance to hold those two heads up.″
The elder Schweitzer said his family is not interested in profiting from the calf.
″It ain’t the money,″ he said. ″We just want somebody who will feed it.″
Purdy said he put a tube through one of the calf’s mouths so Ralph Schweitzer could feed it formula.
″He put one through the other mouth and says he feeds both mouths now,″ Purdy said. ″He said it seems happier that way.″
Purdy said he contacted Ohio State University’s veterinary school to see if the school or researchers would be interested in adopting the calf, but no interest was shown.
Bonnie Bates, a spokeswoman for the school, said, ″The large animal section was not in need of a calf of this type for research at this time.″
Purdy said the only solution may be to put the animal to sleep.
″The only place you’d expect to see something like this would be in a side show somewhere,″ Purdy said. ″I don’t think that would be very pleasant for the animal.″
Asked how the deformity occurred, Purdy explained that if an egg splits, two animals are formed.
″In this case, I think only the head part of the chromosome split, and that’s why there are two heads,″ he said.