George Collins knew one of his cows was in labour, but he couldn’t have anticipated what would be in store for him on Saturday lunchtime.

The cow gave birth to triplets and it’s something which Mr Collins, and his fiancee Daisy Wade, expect they’ll never see again.

Mr Collins, who is the herdsman for 250 cows in a mixed commercial herd for Robin Shields at Oxclose Farm between Willington and Brancepeth, County Durham, said he had never seen triplets before and says they are considered very rare in cows, with about one in 100,000 births resulting in them.

The Northern Farmer: George Collins and Daisy Wade Herd manager at Robin Shield's farm in County DurhamGeorge Collins and Daisy Wade Herd manager at Robin Shield's farm in County Durham

Fortunately for Mr Collins, all three of the heifer calves are happy and healthy. Mr Collins said: "On Saturday lunchtime we spotted mum looking a bit sick and sorry for herself. I gave her a check over and found I could feel four legs and a head, which was good, then there was another four legs, and finally I found the third calf. It was quite a suprise.

"She wasn't very big, so not showing any signs she was expecting triplets. The birth was really straightforward and was all over and done with within minutes.

The Northern Farmer: The calves enjoying yet another feedThe calves enjoying yet another feed

"Triplets are very rare in cows. The boss has been farming a long time and says he's never seen it before. I never have either."

The suspicions are that there are two fathers - one calf is a Charolais and two are Limousin.

"They are all strong and very healthy. We are giving them some supplementary food, but they are also feeding well from the mother," said Mr Collins.

As for names - only the white Charolais has picked up a name - Charlie.

Mr Collins said: "We don't want to get too attached!"