Twin donkey foals born in Girgarre

By Jared Prestwidge

A CHRISTMAS in July miracle came to a Girgarre family last Sunday in the form of rare twin donkey foals.

The male ‘Kayba’ and the female ‘Clare’, born to 11-year-old jenny ‘Oakey’, were delivered on a pleasant afternoon on the Bakers’ property, much to the shock of the family and the local vet.

Debra Baker, who has bred donkeys for decades, said she was beside herself when she saw the two foals come into the world.

“I’ve never had twins born in 45 years of breeding and I’ve had over 150 foals in that time,” she said.

Foal twins Kayba and Clare.

Debra said she noticed Oakey, who had delivered three separate foals before, was having some trouble in labour so she quickly called Dr Clare Williams-Paterson from Kyabram Veterinary Clinic.

“We knew something was wrong, so we called a vet and she came out. She could feel three legs and she said that there was either something wrong or there were twins.”

After two hours in labour, Oakey gave birth to Kayba and Clare — Clare’s name being especially significant since she was named after the veterinarian who helped deliver her.

Dr Williams said it was an exciting experience for her to assist in such an event, despite the clear risk that something could have gone wrong at any moment.

“The cheeky little buggers decided they were both exiting at once so they basically clogged up the birth canal with their legs so there was no way the mare would have delivered either of those two foals unassisted,” she said.

“It was really exciting that we were on-site soon enough otherwise the mare would have been trying and trying and trying and she would have run into all sorts of trouble.

“Given the year everyone has been having with the drought, the floods, the fires and COVID-19, it’s nice something good and positive that could have easily turned out horribly wrong turned out awesome.”

Foal twins Kayba and Clare only moments after their birth.

Twins are rare in donkeys, with only a few pairs currently known in the world, and when twins are born, one invariably dies.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for these two, who Debra said looked as strong as any foal she's seen.

And despite being barely a week old, they already starting to develop some personality — especially Kayba.

“He’s cheekier at the moment. He’ll buck around and play and stuff like that,” Debra said

“He’ll bite the back of my granddaughter AJ’s neck when they play, just silly things.”

And while Debra has sold most of her donkeys as pets or for shows, she said she was keeping the happy trio together at the Girgarre property.

“Oakey is the great-great-granddaughter of my very first donkey King, who I got nearly 50 years ago. So that’ll make the little ones his great-great-great-grandkids,” she said.

Oakey, Kayba and Clare spending quality time with Debra Baker's granddaughter AJ.

As for Oakey, Debra said she won’t have to worry about any more surprises in the future.

“She’s 11 years old so she’s got a lot of years left, but we’re happy with that. It might happen again, I’m too scared,” she said.

“We’re very proud of these little devils. I don’t think I’ll see it again in my life.”

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