Mother cow's heartbreaking emotional anguish after losing her newborn calf
Rosie is a seasoned mother who is about to give birth for the eighth time. She is a wonderful cow with a beautiful disposition and she has been very happy living on a gorgeous farm in Millbrook, Ontario, for more than ten years. She lives with a small herd on a wide expanse of land made up of green pastures for grazing, ponds full of fresh water, and forested area on two sides. This is an ethical beef farm where the cows wander freely and only go indoors during cold winter months. They are well cared for and they respond with affection to the farmers who spend a lot of time making sure they healthy and happy. It's life as close as possible to what nature intended for these gentle creatures.
Rosie wandered to the edge of the pasture and picked a quiet spot among some trees, away from the herd. Her water had broken and she was showing all the signs of a cow who was getting ready to go into labor. The farmers were getting ready too, and they kept a close eye on her.
Hoping to catch a wonderful event on camera, several small GoPros were set up around Rosie when she lay down. The farmers were close by, giving her the space she would need, but watching carefully. Rosie was doing fine at first, but it soon became clear that things were taking a little too long. The farmers checked and saw that calf was coming backwards and that it was not moving. They made a quick decision to help pull the calf out, a common practice when a cow needs help delivering.
As they began to bring equipment over, Rosie stood and delivered her calf smoothly on her own. The farmers rushed in and found that the calf was no longer alive. It seems to have died prior to labor, and efforts to revive it were unsuccessful. Rosie licked the calf and she watched as Dave tried to get a response from the calf. For a mother cow to allow a human to handle a calf at such a time is quite a show of trust. But is was clear that the calf was gone.
Rosie was given a few hours to be with her calf and adjust to the fact that it was not alive. She seemed to know immediately and she bellowed and paced and then licked the calf repeatedly. Her anguish was heartbreaking and even the other cows came to see what had happened. With touching gentleness, a few slowly approached and hung their heads. Rosie was upset and wouldn't allow them close and they slowly walked away. Eventually, the farmer buried the calf and left the pasture himself.
What happened next was agonizing. Rosie walked to the top of a hill overlooking the herd and she bellowed repeatedly, hanging her head and looking completely lost. Then she walked around the meadow, straight to each of the other calves, sniffing any that were black, as hers had been. She ignored the tan and the white calves, sniffing each black or dark grey calf and then heading to another. It was clear that she was looking for her own calf and hoping desperately to find it among the herd.
Rosie stopped occasionally to let out loud and pathetic bawls that echoed over the farm. That evening, after the sun had set, she continued wandering and crying, letting out bellows that the farmers could hear all through the night. The other cows occasionally let out soft bellows in response, but for the evening and through the night, Rosie's voice was almost all that could be heard.
Cows have emotional attachment to their babies, as well as to the other cows. It seems they are even attached to certain humans, if they have been treated well and have learned to trust them. They seek out affection and they seem to remember kindness.
If these lovely animals are capable of such emotions then they definitely understand when they are being mistreated. The majority of farmers treat their animals well, despite what we see in the media when cruelty is exposed. It is very easy for anyone who chooses to eat meat to find ethical farms. Doing a little research, or visiting the farms personally can make this choice easy. The best farmers are proud of how they run their operations and they will happily explain what they do to make sure their animals are treated correctly. Ethical beef might cost a little more, but simply looking for the lowest prices encourages farmers and suppliers to cut corners and sacrifice the care of the animals.
Buying from a farmer you know will also support local business, reduce transportation cost and it will decrease the impact on the environment. Cruelty-free meat is not hard to find and the slight increase in cost will support those who are doing things right.