When his son came to him the morning of June 14 and said that there were two newborn colts, Ivan Miller was a bit surprised, as he had just one horse due to give birth.
After eating breakfast, Miller went to the barn and found the two newborns suckling on the same horse, so he came to the conclusion, “son, I think we have twin colts.”
Twin colts are a very rare occurrence, as Miller had heard of a case in the area, but never seen it happen before it happened to him.
“These are draft horses and they came out around 80 percent of normal birth weight,” Miller said of the twins, fillies named Belle and Bess.
The colts’ mother, Dixie, had never given birth to colts that lived more than a day or two, but she has taken well to her new twins.
“I haven’t done anything with the colts,” Miller said. “She has been taking care of them. I just make sure to feed her well so she can produce milk to handle the two of them.”
Centralia’s Dr. Duane Farmer, who was not involved in this birth, said that the birth is rare.
“Very unusual to see twins. We had a case a few years ago and they had to be taken down to the university to get them to survive. Often when they are born, it takes so long that the second one does not make it. Generally we see one or neither of the colts live.”
Belle and Bess seem to be thriving, putting on “quite a bit of weight” in their three weeks of life.
The twins join the nearly 20 head of horses Miller has, and in a few years they will join the rest working on the farm, pulling farm machinery and wagons.
For the moment, Miller’s newborns have drawn attention in the far northwestern portion of Audrain County known as “Amish country.”
“The next morning, as people were going to church, there was a lot of neck snapping as they went by on the road,” Miller said of the fascination his horses have brought.
“Overall, it is not that different taking care of twins than it is taking care of a single horse, but we are pretty pleased to be taking care of a set.”
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