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Dairy cow story or a lot of bull? My B.S. meter is flashing...

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  • Dairy cow story or a lot of bull? My B.S. meter is flashing...

    I always shake my head when people say "horses can't feel jealousy! horses can't feel love!" I'm not sure about either one of those and maybe just am happier skewing observations the way I'd like to see them.

    But this story has raised a whole lotta skepticism. What say you? (Note-everything below the line of *** has been pasted in from a single FaceBook post, including the links, etc.)



    A "dairy" cow made the tough choice to hide one of her calves after giving birth to twins. As her fifth birth,
    the cow remembered her previous agony and knew that both of her babies
    would be taken away unless she tried to save one. The intelligence and
    care displayed by this mothering cow is both heartbreaking and
    breathtaking. Told by Dr. Holly Cheever, read this touching tale about
    an amazing display of motherly love that proves animals love and feel.
    Dr. Holly Cheever graduated from Harvard University, summa cum laude, in
    1971 and from The College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University
    in 1980 with a class rank of #1. She has been in private practice ever

    ''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

    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. [Organic, small-scale, local, family-owned, humane-certified or
    not, dairy farmers kill the male babies]

    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, unpregnant 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.''

    Hear Dr. Holly Cheever tell this story (and 2 more) here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-031z5U5hw&feature=youtu.be&t=5m26s

    Learn more about Dr. Holly Cheever here: www.hsvma.org/holly_cheever

    Learn the truth about dairy farms from former dairy farmers here: www.humanemyth.org

    Learn the truth about goat dairy industry here: http://tinyurl.com/copkql3

    See some of the dairy alternatives available here: http://tinyurl.com/d6nxogj


    Image is for representation purposes only: www.johneveson.photoshelter.com/image/I0000zGvfW1N1Gxc
    Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.

  • #2
    Lovely story.
    I believe my pony gets jealous and because of it gets turnout by herself. One day I went to bring her in and she came up as normal but then spun around and went after the other mare. She then approached me again but then took off after the poor mare again. This was her bestest buddy and it looked like she was going to run her through a fence! I left the pasture and she finally stopped and waited by the gate for me.
    Recently I started working with another little pony and my other one will just stand and stare at us. I wonder what she is plotting

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      BS. Not because cattle don't think, but because they don't plan like that. Beef cows and heritage breeds make excellent mothers. Dairy cows are a mixed bag because they get accustomed to their calves being separated at birth. That part is true. Dairy calves are not very vigorous because they have not been bred to have strong calves. They are bred to produce milk.

      I worked on a dairy farm as a calf feeder and our maternity area had many mamas giving birth. Most would show limited interest and walk away. A few gems would come by and help me clean off the new baby while I bottle fed it. The new babies would bond with me and other people right away. This helped make them easy going dairy cows. Did you know that a dairy cow that isn't stressed will give more milk during milking? Dairies are very picky about who actually works in the milking parlor because if the ladies don't like him or her, their production goes down. They also get very agitated. About the worst thing you can do is to mess with them while they are going into the milking parlor. Each cow has her spot in line and her stanchion. If one gets out of order, none of the ladies are happy.

      Regarding this story, twining in cattle is very rare. Most often, one calf is weaker. Cows have their schedule. Mama went to the barn to feed or be milked, probably called her weaker baby several times but the baby wasn't ready to go that far yet. Farmer took the newborn calf that was with her and she went back to check on the weaker one. Sometimes, my cows, usually a first time heifer, will come in to eat soon after calving and then return to check on their calf. They are usually nervous and anxious about their calf while they are eating. My best cows stay with their calves because I will bring their breakfast to them, check the calf, and dip it's navel.

      I raise Irish Dexters, the smallest breed of cattle (hence my name) and all my cows will let me handle their newborn calves. I can also halter and lead them in from the pasture easier than many people's horses.
      “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

      St. Padre Pio


      • #4
        I do call BS. No calf should be able to drink that much milk a day where the cow had no milk left.

        I do think that if they are allowed to clean and nurse the calf, they will feel loss when the calf is taken away.


        • #5
          I've read the story somewhere before. I think it's an old wive's tale or what Microbovine has said.
          Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
          Incredible Invisible


          • #6
            BS - this story has been floating around in many variations for decades.
            Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

            Member: Incredible Invisbles


            • #7
              Most cows will feel a loss regardless of whether or not they nurse or clean their babies. Dairy cows are not as maternal, so it might show it as much.

              Most mama cows, (I used to work at several large ranches out west) will mourn, even their stillborn calf, for about a day. The best thing to do is to put her in a pen with the dead calf for a day so she can realize that he isn't getting up. The call they make is one of the saddest sounds on a farm. I've only had one cow lose her calf at birth (he was stepped on). She hollered for three days and I couldn't take it anymore so I went down to our local dairy and paid $15 for a two day old bull calf (Holstein). She accepted him and stopped hollering, finally. After a few months, it was pretty funny to see this big black and white Holstein nursing from his shorter, pure dun, adopted mama. He was castrated, dehorned, and we named him Porterhouse. We fed him out until he was an 18 month old steer. He was a big butthead by then. He was quite tasty, though.
              “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

              St. Padre Pio


              • #8
                A cow's bag has four quarters.
                Even a beef cow, when calving, is giving more milk than a newborn can handle.
                When you check calving cows, you have to watch to be sure the calf, as it gets older and stronger in the first few days, does nurse his mother out all around.

                If a calf doesn't use all quarters, keeps missing a quarter, maybe one that is harder than the others, it can become plugged and dysfunctional.
                It happens rarely, but you have to watch for it and interfere, get the cow in and milk her out until the calf can take it all.
                The cow may even lose that quarter completely, some times even two quarters, where they become big and draggy and next year, the next newborn can't handle it at all again.

                A milk cow has much more milk production than a beef cow, their bag is even bigger, so much that, if you keep a milk cow for the family, not to milk for commercial production to sell the milk, one family generally can't use all that milk.
                Many times that extra milk is fed to pigs or draft one or two calves to the cow to clean her out after the family gets a bucket full for the kitchen at each milking.

                My point with this information, it would be extremely rare that one milk cow was "nursed out" by a newborn, much less a newborn twin.
                That alone tells you the story is the figment of someone's imagination, that really doesn't know cows, or thinks no one in it's audience does.


                • #9
                  Our little Dexters are dual purpose and ideal for small farms so they make excellent family milk cows. All the heifers I have sold are working. Several are used to make gourmet cheese. They produce enough milk to share milk (leave calf with cow most of the time).

                  That is very true about nursing all quarters. The big dairy cows make far too much for a calf to drink.
                  “Pray, hope, and don't worry.”

                  St. Padre Pio


                  • #10
                    BS BS BS BS
                    A cow will naturally try and hide a calf if they are given the opportunity. It had nothing to do with her remembering the previous calves being separated after birth. Cows really don't have that power of reason. Odds are the bull calf had something wrong with it and couldn't follow.
                    2 days after freshening a Brown Swiss could be giving 50lbs of milk a day or more. That is over 6 gallons. Unless she had given birth to Babe the Blue Ox there is no way on God' green earth that a single calf was sucking her dry.

                    There were several other inaccuracies in that little fabrication.
                    Originally posted by The Saddle
                    Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.


                    • #11
                      But it pulls my widdle heartstrings! Shame on da big bad heartless farmer! Poor mama cow! Poor baby cow!

                      Seriously, it's all bs used to try and influence people against farming.
                      ~Kryswyn~ Always look on the bright side of life, de doo, de doo de doo de doo
                      Check out my Kryswyn JRTs on Facebook

                      "Life is merrier with a terrier!"


                      • #12
                        We have two Brown Swiss milk cows-no way could either one of them get remotely drained by one calf. We share our milk with the calf through-out and still get 2-3 gallons per daily milking. A black angus easily keeps up with twins or even triplets in the case of a rancher friend's "litter" two years ago.

                        "the hell of the veal crate"? LOL goodness. This is a Bambi story, it's a story for young lactating human mothers to get them all upset. It has only its small toe based in reality-that a cow could have twins and it might MIGHT take the owner a little while to figure out there was still a calf in the pasture. Cows are excellent mamas but they aren't humans.
                        “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey


                        • #13
                          I call BS on it because a calf couldn't drink all that milk.
                          "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                          ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                          • #14
                            As others have said, the volume of milk produced by modern dairy cattle is far and away more than any calf could drink.


                            • #15
                              I met Holly Cheever at a conference. She is credible and sincere. She told me she herself was shocked when she and the farmer were led to the 2nd calf.

                              Some cows, like some people, are smarter and more aware than others. They are all individuals, something that is inconvenient to think about.


                              • #16
                                I don't see how that is any different than weaning a foal. Most mares make noise for a couple of hours then they get over it.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home


                                • #17
                                  Cows are smarter than many think. We live next to a dairy. Sometimes the young heifers will break through the hedgerow and we find a small herd in our meadow. After a while I will see them all find their way back through the hedgerow in the same place they came through originally. Sensibly. The horses on the other hand if they break through the hedgerow will run wildly up and down the fenceline past the place where they broke through originally. I have always been amazed by this....the horses always need assistance to get back into their own field. the cows never do!!!
                                  "Over the Hill?? What Hill, Where?? I don't remember any hill!!!" Favorite Tee Shirt


                                  • #18
                                    Oh Holly Cheever- she's not a stranger.... leave it to her to see an anthropomorphic version of reality that would advance an animal rights agenda.

                                    Contrasting veterinary opinions:

                                    Holly Cheever's view of working horses in NYC:

                                    Harry Werner's view:


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                                      Oh Holly Cheever- she's not a stranger.... leave it to her to see an anthropomorphic version of reality that would advance an animal rights agenda.

                                      Contrasting veterinary opinions:

                                      Holly Cheever's view of working horses in NYC:
                                      For the love of Pete...what an @$$, if the diary cow story didn't convince you.
                                      ~~Some days are a total waste of makeup.~~


                                      • #20
                                        One more -
                                        No, farmers don't kill the bull calves - but boy, they are tasty when they've been fed out...