Cow hides calf from farmer - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 09-04-2010, 11:16 AM
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I would like to tell you a story that is as true as it is heartbreaking. When I first graduated from Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine, I went into a busy dairy practice in Cortland County. I became a very popular practitioner due to my gentle handling of the dairy cows. One of my clients called me one day with a puzzling mystery: his Brown Swiss cow, having delivered her fifth calf naturally on pasture the night before, brought the new baby to the barn and was put into the milking line, while her calf was once again removed from her. Her udder, though, was completely empty, and remained so for several days. As a new mother, she would normally be producing close to one hundred pounds (12.5 gallons) of milk daily; yet, despite the fact that she was glowing with health, her udder remained empty. She went out to pasture every morning after the first milking, returned for milking in the evening, and again was let out to pasture for the night—this was back in the days when cattle were permitted a modicum of pleasure and natural behaviors in their lives—but never was her udder swollen with the large quantities of milk that are the hallmark of a recently-calved cow.

I was called to check this mystery cow two times during the first week after her delivery and could find no solution to this puzzle. Finally, on the eleventh day post calving, the farmer called me with the solution: he had followed the cow out to her pasture after her morning milking, and discovered the cause: she had delivered twins, and in a bovine’s “Sophie’s Choice”, she had brought one to the farmer and kept one hidden in the woods at the edge of her pasture, so that every day and every night, she stayed with her baby—the first she had been able to nurture FINALLY—and her calf nursed her dry with gusto. Though I pleaded for the farmer to keep her and her bull calf together, she lost this baby, too—off to the hell of the veal crate.

Think for a moment of the complex reasoning this mama exhibited: first, she had memory—memory of her four previous losses, in which bringing her new calf to the barn resulted in her never seeing him/her again (heartbreaking for any mammalian mother). Second, she could formulate and then execute a plan: if bringing a calf to the farmer meant that she would inevitably lose him/her, then she would keep her calf hidden, as deer do, by keeping her baby in the woods lying still till she returned. Third—and I do not know what to make of this myself—instead of hiding both, which would have aroused the farmer’s suspicion (pregnant cow leaves the barn in the evening, un-pregnant cow comes back the next morning without offspring), she gave him one and kept one herself. I cannot tell you how she knew to do this—it would seem more likely that a desperate mother would hide both.

All I know is this: there is a lot more going on behind those beautiful eyes than we humans have ever given them credit for, and as a mother who was able to nurse all four of my babies and did not have to suffer the agonies of losing my beloved offspring, I feel her pain.

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#2 Old 09-04-2010, 12:34 PM
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Thanks for sharing that.

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That is the essence of humanity.
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#3 Old 09-04-2010, 12:50 PM
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I read the article and tears were welling up in my eyes.

"A-yup. Ya wasted yer life, son"

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#4 Old 09-04-2010, 02:21 PM
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Very, very smart. Stupid farmer, people should have to go through the pain they put others through.

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#5 Old 09-04-2010, 04:38 PM
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Good for the cow. I've been told by farmers that "if you take away the calf early enough the cow won't notice" - now I can use this as a counter-argument! That said, I feel really bad for all the animals here - the cow for having to choose, the calf that was given to the farmer for its fate, and the calf that never knew its sibling. :'(

"If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." -Sirius Black
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#6 Old 09-04-2010, 05:07 PM
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Humans are the stupid ones. Not the animals.

As long as there are slaughterhouses there will be battlefields. - Leo Tolstoy
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#7 Old 09-04-2010, 05:18 PM
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I read the article and tears were welling up in my eyes.

Me too.
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#8 Old 09-04-2010, 11:01 PM
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That said, I feel really bad for all the animals here - the cow for having to choose, the calf that was given to the farmer for its fate, and the calf that never knew its sibling. :'(

Once the one whom the mama had hidden was discovered, he was taken away and sold for veal too, despite the pleas of the veterinarian. So both calves became veal and the mama lost both.

"If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the civil war, don't look at where you stand on slavery today, look at where you stand on animal rights." - Paul Watson.

 

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#9 Old 09-05-2010, 08:56 AM
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How utterly heartbreaking. Really brings it home. Thanks, Irizary. Sharing this on my facebook page.
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#10 Old 09-05-2010, 09:15 AM
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Years ago, I was walking through the countryside and I came across a calf lying in some long grass; I thought it was injured..I waited around and then I saw the farmer coming with his tractor to fill up a trough, and I told him about the calf, and he said that the cow had had twins and left one in the long grass... So I think it must be instinctual, to prevent predators from getting a calf, perhaps because she can't protect both?

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#11 Old 09-05-2010, 08:52 PM
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Years ago, I was walking through the countryside and I came across a calf lying in some long grass; I thought it was injured..I waited around and then I saw the farmer coming with his tractor to fill up a trough, and I told him about the calf, and he said that the cow had had twins and left one in the long grass... So I think it must be instinctual, to prevent predators from getting a calf, perhaps because she can't protect both?


Hmmm.. could be.

I remember reading in one of James Herriott's books about a dairy cow who took her calf and hid away with it in a ditch. It was after she had several taken from her. Very sad.
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#12 Old 09-06-2010, 12:46 AM
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Blobbenstein, your theory doesn't make sense to me. I believe that a cow would keep both with her under normal circumstances. Cows can fight hard for their calves, but can't be in two places at once. If it's normal to separate them, I believe it would be in the literature, so it seems that there's something else going on here.

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#13 Old 09-06-2010, 01:12 AM
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I tried to google it but found nothing except a website that had a line about cows only looking after one calf, and ignoring the other.

When I came across this calf, it was like it was paralised...I probably prodded it and all I seem to remember it doing was looking at me; didn't move a limb....This is what makes me think that it is instinct in the species, other wise I would expect the calf to try to follow its mum.

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#14 Old 09-06-2010, 01:22 AM
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Instinct for the calf to stay there? Maybe. But I don't see how it would be instinct to separate them, as she can't be in two places at one time, and they do protect their young. I think they wouldn't leave them so long at all if they were living according to their nature.

"If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the civil war, don't look at where you stand on slavery today, look at where you stand on animal rights." - Paul Watson.

 

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#15 Old 09-06-2010, 06:54 AM
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Stating the obvious, but that's so sad. I can't understand it in the first place, but especially after being aware of how hard she was trying to prevent it from happening, I can't believe the farmer could be so heartless as to go through with it. Well, I can believe it, but I hope he never has kids.
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#16 Old 09-06-2010, 06:57 AM
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Well, I can believe it, but I hope he never has kids.

why?

"Hell exists not to punish sinners, but to ensure that nobody sins in the first place."
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#17 Old 09-06-2010, 07:46 AM
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Because he's shown a complete lack of compassion.
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#18 Old 09-06-2010, 08:06 AM
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Because he's shown a complete lack of compassion.

for perceived "animals" that is.
we don't know how he acts around other humans.

"Hell exists not to punish sinners, but to ensure that nobody sins in the first place."
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#19 Old 09-06-2010, 10:09 AM
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Being alone in the woods wouldn't the calf be in danger? Thanks for posting.
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#20 Old 09-06-2010, 01:38 PM
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Being alone in the woods wouldn't the calf be in danger? Thanks for posting.

Less danger than the veal crate, I'd think.

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