RARE calf triplets have been born to an unexpecting farmer.

On their 325-acre farm, father and son team Alan and Steven Lawson of South Farm, Hallington, found one of their pregnant cows was about to go into labour on July 1.

Alan, 64, said he realised the six-year-old heifer, named Hallington Ebolass, was about to give birth.

The farm is based at Colwell, Hexham and raises pedigree Aberdeen Angus along with commercial sheep and a small flock of pedigree Texels.

"We run a pedigree Angus herd here at South Farm. Hallington Ebolass is part of our pedigree Angus herd," Alan said.    

Hexham Courant: The calf triplets at three days oldThe calf triplets at three days old (Image: Anne Lawson)

"Under full investigation, we found she was having two calves. We got the two calves from her and put her in the shed. We didn't expect anything else and I went past the shed about half an hour later and here there was a third calf just popped up beside her, it was a bit of a surprise. It was totally unexpected, it was the last thing I thought I'd see."

The phenomenon of cows birthing triplets has been estimated by bovine experts to occur in approximately one in 100,000 births. 

Alan said he has been a farmer his whole life since his own dad was a farmer, and he saw calf triplets born many years ago during that time.

"Three heifer calves, they're all absolutely fine. We've had two sets of twins this year, but I never expected triplets at all.

"The first time she calved, she had twins and she's had two single calves and now a set of triplets," he said. "She's produced seven calves in four years."

Steven and Alan have seen national success over the years with their homebred Hallington cattle.

One of their best bulls, Hallington Picasso, was awarded reserve male championship at the Northumberland County Show, and a third place at the Royal Highland Show.

It was at the latter show that the award-winning genetics caught the eye of an Australian farmer, who asked the Lawson family to send over several embryos to the other side of the world.

To ensure that high breeding standings are met, Alan and Steven use artificial insemination on the farm, which is arranged by Steven, a trained AI technician.