Cow Had Fourth Male Calf

19-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, September 16, 1914: Born to Mollie, a son, and he’s a big one. While Mollie is very proud of him, I am still prouder, for he belongs to me. This is the fourth calf of Mollie’s family. The others are dead. Snapped a picture of Ruth’s school this morning.

Kimball's Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)
Kimball’s Dairy Farmer Magazine (June 15, 1911)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Mollie was Grandma’s cow. I think that her parents gave each child a cow. When the cow had a male calf, the child got the money from the sale; when it was a female, their personal herd grew.

This was the fourth year in a row that Mollie had a male calf.

On November 20, 1913, Grandma wrote:

My Mollie’s calf over which I have been rejoicing for the past week or two on account of his bigness was sold this afternoon. He weighed 164 pounds. I had figured out a week or so ago that he would just have to weigh at least 145 pounds. Haven’t I something to be thankful for?

On December 27, 1912, Grandma wrote:

 Sold Mollie’s calf today. It wasn’t a very big one and I rather feared my fortune would be pretty small, but after all it weighed one hundred and forty-four lbs. Received a neat sum of $11.56. . .

And, on August 21, 1911, she wrote:

. . . I have decided to name Mollie’s calf Wobbly as he is rather weak in his legs, but he’ll get stronger bye and bye.

It’s surprising that Mollie’s had no female calves. I’m a little foggy on how you calculate the probability, but I think that there is only a 1 out of 16 chance of this occurring.

23 thoughts on “Cow Had Fourth Male Calf

  1. I grew up on a dairy farm and helped feed the calves from a bucket from an early age. I was given one once, a pure white bull calf, and called him Baby. I’d take him round the farm for walks – he followed me like a dog – and I was fond of him, but don’t remember having any hesitation in selling him when he was ready for market! Farm kids have a different mentality to animals.

    1. I grew up on a dairy farm. . . and it just seemed normal to sell the bull calves and other animals that needed to be sold. Even though I enjoyed playing with the calves, I guess that I never really thought of them as pets and didn’t get attached to them.

  2. I have heard that with people, if you have had two children of the same sex in a row, the likelihood of your having a third child of the opposite sex is way lower than 50%. Something about the pH of the woman’s innards being more favorable to one type of sperm or the other. Maybe it’s the same with cows?

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