Cow Proves Animals Love, Think, And Act

I just found a story here, on the globalanimal.org website, which is a wake up call for all animal lovers who still use dairy.  Just like Deidra, the mother in this story demonstrated not only the love she had for her calf, but the complicated thought process she used in her attempt to save him:

By Holly Cheever DVM:

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, 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.

Holly Cheever, DVM

Vice President, New York State Humane Association Member

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association’s Leadership Council

42 thoughts on “Cow Proves Animals Love, Think, And Act

  1. I’m so moved by this story, having my Own animals and witnessing the unconditional love and their ability to reason things out to a rather high level. That most people deny possible I plead with everyone , be kind to these creatures who feel real emotion. Love and grief and will love and protect us with their dying breath and never abandon us !

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    • And it’s not an isolated incident either. I wrote ‘Where are you going Deidra?’ after a friend told me about a former farmer she met who told her that he gave up dairy farming and became vegan after discovering one of his cows had hidden her calf from him and was disappearing off to feed him each day. I’ve also read about other dairy farmers who have given up because they just couldn’t cope with how heartbreaking it was to watch the cows after being separated from their young. Thanks for the reblog 😀

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      • Thank YOU Violet. I wanted to believe the advertising campaigns about happy cows, but my eyes have been pried open recently. I can no longer participate in these awful acts of cruelty just because I LOVE cheese! And it really is sick that we humans drink cow’s milk too. Amazing how easily I have been fooling myself. But not anymore thanks to you and other posts like yours.

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        • Thanks so much Sandra, you have made my day. I found cheese very difficult to give up at first too because it contains an addictive substance, but you’ll find that if you just stop having it you’ll stop craving it after a couple of weeks. Just get through the first couple of weeks and then you’ll wonder what all the fuss was about. Look at this video, in which one cow’s story has a happy ending – it will bring tears to your eyes but you’ll be glad you watched it (another blogger just commented on it and I re-watched it and thought you would like it) Happy Veganism Sandra, welcome to the team! 😀

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Fur In The Paint and commented:
    Had to share this here since I’ve been in it deep with my “Cowgirls” project. Truthfully I think this may be giving the heifer more credit for forward thinking than is true, but I don’t that is so either. It’s no news to anyone who knows me that I believe animals have strong emotional lives and indeed souls. It is just so much easier to do what we do to them if we all pretend they don’t.

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  3. Yes, it is a heartbreaking story but it’s also a reminder about how much we care about 3 furry kids — Bishop, the big, lovable Aussie Collie; Amber the mini Dach and Bonnie, our beloved Scottie who rules everyone. They makes us smile even in the worst of times.

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  4. This is so heart breaking, yet shows that cows like all animals are sentient beings who care for their young as we do. This story clearly shows that cows can think and reason and have memory and are in this case devious – how clever of her to think of hiding one calf – all signs of intelligence. They are not the automatons that the dairy and meat industry would have us think. Wonderful story, though so sad. Thanks for sharing.

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  5. I thank YOU for posting it. Such an important story happening all across the U.S. The comment about the farmer who discovered what he had done and changed his ways was hopeful but that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.

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  6. This is heart breaking 😦 Especially the part where the farmer sends the baby to the veal crate. I cannot imagine the mother’s heart break. Like Holly Cheever, I have breastfed 4 babies.
    I have written about bobby calves. In Australia, the dairy industry advises that calves should be removed within 12 hours of birth to ‘minimise’ bonding between mother and calf. How callous! Research suggests that a strong maternal bond is established within 5 minutes of birth.
    Humans have a hard time acknowledging that other mammals love their babies too.
    I’m going to check out your Deirdra story now.

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    • I know Ally, it is so heart breaking. The farmer who inspired Deidra’s story was from Australia, and when he discovered what his cow had done – hiding her calf from him to prevent the baby being taken away from her – he was devastated at what he’d been doing. He’d always considered himself kind to his animals. After this he became vegan, practically fruitarian I believe. He came to live in England and a friend of mine met him and talked to him. Sadly she can’t remember his name because otherwise I would have dedicated the story to him. xx

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  7. Oh, God, had me in tears. Am going to reblog with your permission? What a perfect example of the feelings and love and emotion in animals. I am so glad I stopped eating cow, pig, turkey and lamb– now to tackle the rest. This is a beautiful story!! Thanks so much for posting.

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