ELSIE'S JOURNEY

Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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HATHAWAY- Miracles can happen every day. One of the area’s newest residents is special, to say the least.

Hathaway resident Matt Alexander said he works hauling livestock from a barn in Texas. Earlier last week, he didn’t have a load to make so he decided to visit the sale barn in Kinder.

“I was just making a pass, checking out what was at the sale,” he said. “I really didn’t have any intention of buying anything that day.”

Alexander said that’s where he came across something rather peculiar.

“I found this Black Angus calf with a fifth leg protruding from its head that had been born there that day,” he said. “This is something I have never seen before.”

The extra appendage seems to have a knee joint, an ankle joint and a fully developed hoof. It is attached at the top of the head and dangles to her left side.

Each joint bends like it is supposed to, he said.

“No one was bidding on her. I wanted to save her from being left to die,” said Alexander.

He sent a picture to his fiance, Maghin Davis.

“Matt sent me a picture of the calf and I immediately said I wanted her,” said Davis. “Then I changed my mind and said no but he brought her home anyway because he knew I would love her. And he was right.”

After finding the baby, Alexander said he wanted to find the calf’s mother as well.

“For some reason, the new baby had been separated from her mom. There was some kind of mix up and the mother’s tag was printed incorrectly,” he said. “After some time, I was able to find her.”

Alexander spoke to her owner and was able to purchase the mother along with her special baby, he said.

The calf was named Elsie and now both she and her mother have a new home in Hathaway.

The couple nor the previous owner had ever seen such a spectacle, they said.

The man from Eunice, who was selling the mother, said he bought the mother from a sale barn as a calf, raised it and put her up for sale once she was older. The mother never seemed to have any particular issues in the time that he was raising her. He said no other history was available.

Davis said she has done some research and found information regarding twins absorbed in utero. She said she has found an instance of another calf born in Arkansas last year. The veterinarian there diagnosed the calf with something called Polymelia, a birth defect where the baby is born with more than the usual number of limbs.

“We believe that the mother was pregnant with twins,” said Davis. “It is possible at some point the embryos didn’t split and Elsie absorbed part of her twin sibling.”

Elsie also has another extra growth on the back of her neck that appears to be a third ear, said Davis.

“We’re not exactly positive about that at this point,” she said.

Just under a week old, the couple said they are waiting to make sure Elsie survives the first few critical weeks before visiting a veterinarian to see if the extra limb can be successfully removed without any consequences.

“If the leg is not attached to her brain in any way, there should be no problem having it removed,” she said.

Davis said she has friends in veterinary school in Baton Rouge and she is thinking of letting the students see if they can find a way to help Elsie.

At this time, the couple said the calf seems to be normal in all other aspects.

“She runs, plays and eats well. Her mother is feeding her and has not rejected her. She is protective of her young,” said Davis. “Elsie gets around good and seems to have no limitations right now.”

Alexander and Davis said they will take it day by day and see how things develop before seeing what else can be done. They will continue to closely monitor the pair and watch how things progress.

Davis said updates will be made on her Facebook page, Elsie’s Journey.

“I hope that sharing her story results in finding people with more information on her condition and possibly reaching someone who can assist us in helping Elsie live her best life,” she said.

Elsie and her mom are definitely not alone. Their new owners said they are no strangers to caring for animals. Their property is home to a host of others.

“We have horses, cattle, goats, ducks and geese, just to name a few,” said Davis.

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