Earlier this week a mutant two-headed cow baby was born to a surprised resident in a Brazilian town. The strange-looking calf was born on a farm in the village of Tapera do Peixe in the Bahia state of the South American country on Monday, July 18.
Its mother was very protective, but sadly it died four days after being born, due to a genetic defect, The Daily Star reports. Cattle breeder Elidan Oliveira Sousa said: “It’s a rare occurrence, an unusual case. My daughter was astonished because she had never seen such a rare event.”
He said he and his daughter Elida Sousa, 12, have barely been able to spend time with the strange creature because its mother is so protective of her baby. Elidan said: “The cow, the mother, didn’t let us get close to it. We wanted to get the calf to suckle, to do things properly.”
Despite its serious defect, the calf lived for almost four full days before succumbing to the defect yesterday. According to experts, animals with genetic abnormalities such as these are usually either stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Elidan told local media: “We informed vets, but we were unable to take it. We were going to do it this afternoon, so they could look at it, but the calf died beforehand.”
Professor and vet Jefferson Filgueira Alcindo said the genetic mutation is called “dicephaly”. He explained that while it is possible for animals to be born with dicephaly even if their parents aren’t related, “the probability increases when there is inbreeding”.
Dicephaly can also be caused by environmental factors, such as the use of certain anti-worm medicines, ingesting toxic plants, mineral deficiencies, and some viruses, such as the bovine viral diarrhoea virus.
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