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Rare conjoined twin calves die after birth

AAP logoAAP 19/12/2016 Rebecca Gredley

A farmer has stumbled on the body of rare conjoined twin calves on his property in Western Australia's Great Southern region.

Malcolm Auld found the speckle park breed calves, who were up to nine weeks premature, on his property in Napier, about 30km north of Albany.

Mr Auld said he had not seen conjoined calves in his 32 years of cattle farming, and described the incident as a "freak of nature".

Conjoined twins occur when an embryo doesn't completely divide in half, and most do not survive as the animals' physiology usually fails shortly after birth.

Mr Auld named the twins Dr Speckle and Mr Pied, after what he considered the "most famous split personality", Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Head of Murdoch University's farm animal veterinary services Michael Laurence said while conjoined twins were uncommon, he had seen many abnormalities with cattle.

"I've seen calves with extra legs, missing pieces, two heads, inside out calves," Dr Laurence told AAP.

"Vets see it all."

He said deformities were rare but not unsurprising, however he was surprised the cow birthed the twins naturally as they usually needed veterinary assistance.

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