This mutant calf with two heads has spooked residents of a Brazilian village.
The two-headed heifer was born on a farm in the village of Tapera do Peixe – located in a rural area of Macaubas municipality, Bahia state – on Monday, 18th July.
Cattle breeder Elidan Oliveira Sousa, 36, 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, had little contact with the mutant calf because its mother was extremely protective of the newborn.
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 on Thursday.
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.”
Experts say animals with these kinds of genetic abnormalities are usually stillborn or die shortly after birth.
Veterinarian and university professor Jefferson Filgueira Alcindo told local media that the malformation is called “dicephaly”.
He explained that the gene that causes dicephaly is recessive, meaning it is only transmitted in the absence of a dominant gene.
He said it is possible for animals to be born with dicephaly even if they are born to two unrelated parents, but he added that “the probability increases when there is inbreeding”.
However, he revealed that dicephaly can also be caused by environmental factors, such as the use of certain vermifuges, the ingestion of toxic plants, some mineral deficiencies, and some viruses, such as the bovine viral diarrhoea virus.
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Story By: William McGee, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Central European News
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