Herd mother referees cow scuffle to protect newborn calves
Rose is the mother figure in this herd that lives on a beautiful farm in Millbrook, Ontario. The senior cow, she often acts motherly toward the younger cows and makes a point of checking on everything that is going on. When a young mother has a calf, Rose will often come to inspect the calf, licking it or seeming to give her approval.
But when the behaviour is not to her liking, she is quick to express her disapproval as well. It was a spring day on this farm and the cows had been having their calves over the week that led up to this. There were 16 newborns in the meadow and the mothers were grazing happily and providing milk for the babies, just as new mother cows do. Things were peaceful and quiet, except for moos of contentment, or cries from the hungry babies who had lost track of their mothers and the milk supply.
Two of the heifers began to squabble and something about the lighter coloured cow upset the tan cow. It put its head down low and rammed the blonde cow in the shoulder. Not to be bossed around, the blonde cow responded with some pushing back. Now the two cows were locked in a pushing match with head butting and rib bashing. Things were getting very physical and it was escalating quickly.
Rose had been watching all of this and she was not happy about it. Her little calf is three days old and he is still tiny. The other calves in the herd were near hers and the two cows in the scuffle were inching closer to the babies. Rose knew that a calf could get trampled and she came trotting in with determination.
As if she were the teacher refereeing a schoolyard fight, she picked the aggressor and the bully in the pair and she put her head right into its shoulder. She muscled the cow around and off towards the empty part of the meadow. The tan cow got the message after a few more moments of head butting and it trotted away from the skirmish. With a watchful eye and a warning moo, Rose seemed to be giving the word that the matter had been resolved and better not start up again.
At least for now, things seemed to be calm again and Rose headed back to where she had been grazing among the other new mothers. Rose's calf stayed close as she played referee and it followed her back to the "nursery" where the calves were waiting.