Jumping Jack, the world’s smallest calf

Knee-high miracle calf Jack is very likely the smallest living calf in the world — so small his owner initially mistook him for a magpie.

Standing 15 inches tall and weighing just 12 pounds, this Belted Galloway calf was born just over two weeks ago on an outside farm at Carrigadrohid, Co Cork, of Paddy and Margaret Herlihy, whose main suckler and sheep farm is at nearby Inchamore, Coolea. The usual weight would be nearer 70lbs.

The Guinness Book of Records does not monitor calf size as an official record, but did inform the Irish Examiner that the lowest previous live birthweight accurately recorded for a calf is 4.1kg (9 lb) for a Friesian heifer called Christmas, born on Dec 25 1993 on the farm of Mark and Wendy Theuringer in Hutchinson, Minnesota, USA. Sadly, she died of scours at five weeks.

Local Macroom vet Tom O’Leary has confirmed that Jack went full term, which may have given him the strength to overcome the challenges presented to him by virtue of his stature — not least that he was too short to reach his mother’s teats for milk, even if he had had the strength to stand on his own four feet.

What certainly also helped him, therefore, was Paddy Herlihy’s nurturing efforts, which weighed the odds back in Jack’s favour.

Paddy said: “When I first looked out of the car, I thought the cow was playing with a magpie. It wasn’t until I got out and went over that I realised he was a calf.

“A lot of people have come to see him over the past two weeks. These are people who have seen a lot of cows, but they haven’t seen anything like Jack. They can’t believe him. He thinks he’s able for some things that he can’t really do. When you call his name, he comes running over like a pet. He’s not too steady on his feet, so he does a ‘hucklebuck’ when he runs.”

Jack was so small that Paddy and his wife, Margaret, didn’t think he’d survive. His mouth was too small for the regular stomach feeding tube, so they fed him with a sheep’s tube for the first few days.

After three days, he moved onto a human baby’s bottle, and he has been thriving ever since. Finding his feet has been a bit of a slow curve for Jack, but finding his way into his owner’s hearts has been an easier journey.

Margaret said: “He’s a dote. He’s tiny. We thought that the other calves were small, but Jack just runs between their legs and underneath them.”

Local vet Tom O’Leary said Jack is perfectly healthy and out of any danger. He said that the Belted Galloway is a sturdy breed, and that going full term probably stacked the odds in Jack’s favour.

Mr O’Leary said: “Paddy saved him by feeding him. Jack hasn’t had any medicine or special treatments, just a good feeding. All the locals have been around to see him. None of us have ever seen such a small calf survive.”

What next then for Jack? Well, Paddy reckons he has become such a local star already that he may take him along to agricultural shows.

“I may carry him along to the shows so young lads can feed him with the bottle,” said Paddy. “Jack is great craic, running around the yard like a puppy. I think people would like to see him at the shows.”

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