A cow that has wowed a vet by being born with three eyes is still destined to be eaten.
Malan Hughes came across the unusual calf while testing cattle for TB at a farm in Gwynedd, Wales.
The animal, which is around four-months-old and in fine health, did not seem bothered by the additional eye.
“Vets tend to see all sorts of things – cyclops lambs and animals born with two heads – but I have never seen anything like this before,” Malan said.
“From the outside the extra eye looks fine. It has eyelids and eyelashes, and it is moist too, as if some kind of lubricant is being secreted.
“But it’s impossible to know if anything is going on behind the eye.”
Likely to be a developmental anomaly, the third eye doesn’t appear to be causing any problems.
Three-eyed calves are vanishingly rare but seven years ago one born in India was worshiped as a god.
Villagers in Tamil Nadu flocked to visit the calf, who was named after Lord Shiva, the Hindu god who is depicted with a third eye and represents wisdom and insight.
The Gwynedd calf – a dairy cross British Blue animal – is unlikely to receive the same kind of attention.
Malan said it should lead an otherwise “normal” life for a beef animal that is ultimately destined for the food chain.
“It does not act any differently from any other calf,” she said.
“As a veterinary practice, we will certainly be treating it with the same care we give every animal.”
Malan, who works for the Milfeddygon Deufor veterinary practice in Y Ffor, is herself a dairy farmer’s daughter who regularly helps out with the family’s cattle at home.
She was not expecting a deluge of interest that followed her unexpected discovery.
“I took some pictures of the calf and carried on with my work,” she said.
“That evening I posted them on Twitter thinking that only a few of my regular followers would be interested.
“I’ve since had to turn off my phone because of the number of messages I’ve been getting.”