Motorist Films Newborn Calf's Wobbly First Moments
We've all seen newborn calves prancing around in meadows at the side of the road. Few things are as heart warming as a new baby exploring the world and drinking milk from its mother as she grazes. We've come to associate these sights with spring, new life, hope, and joy.
A passing motorist was looking at the cows in the field as he drove by and he could see a dozen or more new baby calves enjoying the sunshine with their mothers. What caught his eye next was the sight of a calf that had just been born a few minutes before, lying on the grass at the edge of the meadow. The mother was licking the calf and it was obvious with its glistening, wet coat that it was only a few minutes old. The mother began nudging the calf, insisting that it get to its feet. The birth is so recent that the umbilical cord is still visible on the calf and the afterbirth is still attached to the cow.
Cows and horses are among the few animals that are so mobile within the first few minutes of life. Their legs are almost full grown in length when they are born, allowing them to use the only defense that they have; to flee from danger. These skinny legs have yet to fill out and grow thick muscles and the calf is adorably clumsy as it struggles to stand and stay upright.
This calf was filmed getting to its feet for the first time. The only understanding it has is that its mother is telling it to get up, like her. It struggles first to balance on its knees, then eventually gets its feet under it. But it has not yet learned to balance and to coordinate the movement of its four legs to keep it upright. It wobbles as if drunk while the protective mother stands guard beside it. She will not leave this baby alone for even a moment until it is fully able to run back to her for protection.
Within moments of the calf being on its feet, another mother wanders over to inspect the baby with a long sniff and an approving look. As she wanders off, she lets out a moo that seems to be a congratulatory message for the new mom.
As the calf gains its balance, it faces another challenge. It is already hungry and nature has provided it with the instinct to seek food and to suckle. Somehow it knows to look to mom for a meal and it makes its way around her in search of the right end. Mom even helps by moving into position and offering an occasional nudge toward her udder.
It's almost worth cheering as the calf finally finds the udder and begins to nurse. Mom stands happily as the calf gets that first, crucial dose of milk and colostrum for antibodies. As if remembering that she has a cheering section still watching, this proud mother turns to her audience and lets out a contented moo.