WHEN Christina slid into the world, her arrival seemed little short of miraculous.

The calf was born minutes after a two-hour rescue mission to hoist her mum, heifer Molly, out of a deep stream and back on to dry land.

The calf's birth amazed two fire crews, a vet and the farmer, who was almost certain she would be born dead.

Dairy farmer Michael Babey, of Parkers Farm in Rownhams, told how a rambler had alerted him to the stricken Molly as he brought other cows in for milking, at about 5pm yesterday.

"I went to count the cows at the bottom of the farm - there should have been 19 but one was missing," he said.

"We found her stuck in the brook with water up to her knees. She had milk fever and I couldn't inject her to make her better, and there was no way we could lift her out."

Mr Babey phoned the vet, who said it was a job for the fire brigade.

Crews from Redbridge and Eastleigh were drafted in to help with the rescue mission, which involved chopping back bushes and lifting the cow out with a giant sling.

It was as she set foot on dry land that the heifer's calf decided to make her entrance.

"They put Molly on the ground and straight away she gave birth," said Michael, who has 120 cows on his farm.

"All the firemen were picking up their gear and I was just going off to get some clean water. By the time I came back the calf was out. We thought it would be dead after going through all that but it was fine. I stuck a straw up its nose, which makes them sneeze and start breathing, and it was fine."

It is a bonus that Christina is a heifer as she can be kept for milking.

Now cow and calf are settling back into normal life on the 220-acre farm. Mr Babey added that Molly was still weak but doing well and the calf had scampered off to join other calves on the farm.