South Carolina Farmer has Calf with 2 Heads Preserved

 
South Carolina Farmer has Calf with 2 Heads Preserved

Dairy farmer James Anderson was surprised when a calf that was born to one of his black-and-white Holsteins came out red and white.

He was even more surprised when it came out with two heads.

"We've had a lot of twin calves and stuff, but I've never had a two-headed calf before," he said.

Not many other farmers can say they have either, but it's not unprecedented, according to Brian Bolt, a senior lecturer in Clemson University's department of animal and veterinary sciences.

"We've had evidence of oddities before," he said. "It's certainly not common."

How uncommon is it?

"You've got much better shots at winning the lottery," he said.

Such anomalies can occur through genetic mutation, or "some type of weird developmental problem" in the womb, he said.

The animal died soon after birth, and Anderson has had it preserved by Easley, S.C., taxidermist Grover Bearden.

"It's probably the coolest project I've ever done, and I don't know if I'll ever have the opportunity to do another one," said Bearden, owner of Southland Taxidermy Studio on U.S. 123.

The calf was born more than two years ago, on April 15, 2012, Anderson said. He didn't have any thoughts of making a display out of it first.

"When I first saw it I said, 'that's gross.' I didn't like it," he recalls.

He put it in the freezer, just as an oddity.

"And the more I thought about it, I said, we'll never have anything like that again on this farm. So I sent it and had it mounted," he said.

Bearden, who is president of the South Carolina Association of Taxidermists and certified through the National Taxidermy Association, said the two heads were clearly and naturally part of the same body when he first saw it.

He usually throws away the carcass of animals he preserves, but this time he saved it, he said, so he could make the exact measurements needed for the manikin.

After 60-80 hours of work, he had the creature looking lifelike, he said.

The two heads come together with a neat cowlick between them. Otherwise, it looks like a normal newborn calf.

He finished the project and said he unveiled it at a taxidermy show in Raleigh recently.

Anderson said the mother cow, which has a number but no name, has had normal calves since then.

He doesn't know much about the father because the cow was artificially inseminated.

The calf was delivered by his employees, but he said he told his veterinarian about it.

"He said he'd never seen anything like it," Anderson said. "It's just a freak of nature."

Anderson, who has a sideline as a strawberry grower at his Grey Rock Farms in Moore, said he plans to display the animal in his strawberry building, so people who come to pick their own or to buy fresh strawberries can see it -- "if the wife will let me."

As far as a name for the calf (or is it calves?), he's thinking maybe Annie, because of its red hair, like Little Orphan Annie.

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