Guizhou-A dairy cow with a fifth ‘leg’ is living happy and healthy after being rescued by a kind farmer shortly after it was born.

The cow in Qinglong County, in south-western China’s Guizhou Province, has owner Chen Mingguo to thank, after he took it off the hands of a local farmer who wanted to put the animal down.

Chen says the apparent deformity was immediately noticeable after the calf was born and the breeder - one of his friends - called all his neighbours and acquaintances to see it.

While the animal was something of a freak show at the time, none of the farmers were willing to buy the animal, fearing that it would die quickly and result in a financial loss for its owner.

Chen, however, decided to bring the calf home because he was ‘curious’, and he has been happy to see the animal mature into an adult without any issue.

Images of the mutant cow are now being shared on Chinese social media and show its fifth, very thin leg dangling over its back.

The limb does not appear to have developed over the months, and local agricultural experts said they do not expect it to affect the animal’s well-being.

Huang Weiquan, a local breeder, said the cow is not really deformed or a mutant as many believe, but simply the only survivor in what was once a pair of twins. He explained: ‘The twin egg did not separate properly during fertilisation, so it resulted in the extra leg growing on the back. ‘It’s not a ‘freak’.’ In 2014, a cow with a fifth leg was also found in India.

The four-year-old animal brings good luck to whoever touches the extra limb - with some claiming it is a manifestation of a Hindu deity.

Owner Laxman Bhosale, 35, tours the country with the animal - with hundreds regularly turning out to catch a glipse of the creature.

Laxman said: ‘Cow is our holy animal. We call her our mother. With this extra limb, God is indicating to us that we must respect the animal and seek her blessings.

‘Touching the limb of mother cow will bring good luck and help you fulfill all your wishes.’