September 21, 2016

"Reuniting" Cow with Calf: What's Actually Going On??

What goes through your mind when you see a video like this?

Did you get that feel-good feeling in your heart after seeing it, or did you watch it with a sense that something is definitely not right here? Ignore the Mariah Carey song as it just added to the sappiness and cheesiness of the entire video.

If you were the latter, then you'd be one of the few, including myself, that seen and understood that there was a whole lot of misinformation going on here.

And there is a whole lot of misinterpretations and misinformation going on, so much that it was hard to know where to begin even when I first started seeing it. It's best, though, to go in chronological order.

Scene 1: Bellering cow

We're brought to this Hereford beef cow named "Karma" who was apparently "rescued" from whatever fate bestowed here, being the talkative girl she is in the video.

We're made to believe that the reason that she's bawling so much is because she is calling for her calf with the whole, mother-calf relationship being so strong, cows are intelligent, blah, blah, blah.

Ironically, the caption at 0:57 to 1:08 read that the rescuers had no idea what was wrong, why she was so-called "crying" through the night. So why were they saying that she was missing her baby, that you could "almost feel her pain" and literally setting the stage right from the get go that she was missing her calf??

What bugs me here too is that the people in this video–I'm not stooping to the level of calling them "rescuers"–literally do not have a clue why she's bellering so much or why she's dripping milk. She could be pregnant and near calving for all we know; She may have just been weaned from her real calf, not the fake "real" calf as we'll see soon in the video. She could be bawling because she's hungry; or, she could just be mooing because she just likes to talk; I did hear from someone that Herefords are particularly talkative creatures. She could even be in heat and hollering for a bull!

And feeling sorry for her wasn't going to solve the problem why she was really bellering, certainly not from a bunch of "rescuer" dummies who really had no idea about bovine behaviour, OR breeds for that matter.

But she wasn't "crying." Cows don't cry. They don't do emotional very well, because they're prey animals. Should they show any weakness, emotional or physical, they get taken down by a predator. Every single cow, deer, songbird and rabbit knows this. But that's not to say that cows don't show emotions; they do, it's just far more subtler than in humans. Or dogs.

Scene 2: Arrival of the Jersey Calf

Here's where things get super stupid and cheesey all at once. Mariah Carey ain't helping in this situation.

So the trailer arrives and Karma, who was actually quiet for once and sitting down chewing her cud, like she should be, and not pacing around like a real momma cow would looking for her calf, gets up in "hopes of finally getting the response she's been desperately searching for."

Now they're really stretching it. That cow was sitting down, not pacing around. Desperation in a cow is up and pacing the fenceline, not sitting recumbent, all relaxed and ruminating.

And here's the other thing: In this 4.41 minute video this cow, more than likely a 3-year old young cow, looks like just some young cull cow they "rescued" from a salebarn; They probably liked her coat colour and thought she'd be an ideal candidate to "rescue."

Just like the haltered calf they brought out: They weren't actually looking for this cow's calf because they had no damn clue what he or she even looked like. So they just picked some random calf up from another salebarn, called it a "rescue" and claimed that it, well, might be her calf, in hopes that she'll take him on and finally shut up.

Except that the calf that came out of that trailer was NOT her calf.

The bull calf that came out of that trailer was 100% Jersey. I know my cattle breeds, but just to prove a point I purposefully did a Google search on "Jersey calves" and came up with a picture like this:

Look familiar? The calf in this photo is a few months younger, but I think I made my point crystal clear.

Scene 3: The "Greeting"

Look, I get the whole fuzzy-mushy thing about animals greeting and being reunited long-lost friends and human family-members, but this was just too much. 

First, we see that Karma and her pal, Chante, a Holstein heifer, were supposedly "desperately trying to get to the baby..." 

What I was seeing was two very curious heifers trying to get at this new arrival; trying to get a better smell and sight of the new stranger. And of course because it was a young, healthy, bouncy calf, they could sense its stress and excitement and were acting in the same way. So no, they weren't eagerly greeting the "baby." 

Nor was the calf "eager to greet its mom." This Jersey calf, full of piss and vinegar as they tend to be, was more focused on fighting the lead and halter it was forced to wear, acting all dramatic and such to try to convince these stupid humans to get it off and leave him be. It's typical Jersey behaviour to be throwing himself down–he certainly didn't fall down–and being the dramatic little shit he was. And typical cow behaviour to be all stressed and worked up about being in a new environment with a new herd to be introduced to. 

The way those cows were sniffing at him, they weren't that happy to see him. As a matter of fact when he got back up on his feet again–without help, again–he made a move to go away from the bossy heifers. And the video clip was cut from there so we couldn't see the abuse he had to go through from those two heifers giving him the run-down on the bovine pecking order. 

Third thing that was wrong with this picture was the attempt to stress just how so "weak and tired" the calf was; Oh so malnourished and hungry he was, falling down and needing "help to get back up!" 

Dear God, give me a break!! 

Do you want to see what weak, hungry, and tired a truly malnourished calf looks like? Here, I'll show you: 

Again, I think I made my point quite clear. 

But just to be even more clear, that calf was anything but hungry and weak. Compared to some of the pictures I have seen and put on this post of truly malnourished calves, that Jersey calf was/is fat, healthy, strong, and full of life; rather, full of piss and vinegar. 

When I look for malnourishment in cattle I look to see if the hips, spine, and ribs are protruding sharply out. And the quality of the video may not be the greatest, but it does not hide the fact that there is a healthy layer of fat over the hips, spine, and ribs enough you can't even see the ruddy bones. 

I think the Gentle Barn needs to do a helluva lot better job at portraying "weak and hungry" calves next time they think about putting a video on a public domain like YouTube.

Scene 4: The Nursing Pair

So the Hereford accepted the calf, so what. This pair isn't even related to each other. Let me explain.

That heifer, Karma, is a Hereford cow. A beef cow. The calf, whatever his name is, is a Jersey calf. A dairy calf. Herefords and Jerseys do not look the same. 

This should be really obvious. 

Now, if that was indeed Karma's calf, Karma wouldn't be a Hereford. She would be a Jersey cow. But she's not, is she?

If the calf truly belonged to Karma, he would be a much different colour. No black nose and hooves, a deep red or even black coat, with a white face; may be brockled, may be white with some speckling like her. Her calf–her real calf–may look something like this:

Or this:

Or even something like this:

Basically, her calf would have the white face, or brockle colouration like with the black calf above. 

But he sure as heck wouldn't look like this

What does a Jersey-Hereford look like? Well, they look something like these calves:

While there's nothing wrong with a cow being a surrogate mom, what is wrong is that a) this video is basically a big lie about a cow and a calf being supposedly "reunited", b) the calf is at the age where he does not need that cow's milk, and is big and fat enough to get on with it, and c) we've been lead to believe a particular situation that is very much untrue. 

And why was that cow still hollering even after she greeted or was "reunited" what was supposedly "her" calf? Why was she allowing him to suckle, yet acting just like she was before, with the same exact tones she was using when she was bellering right at the beginning?! 

Because, for one: That's NOT her calf!!

And there's obviously something else, some much deeper reason why she's still "crying." 

We'll never know what. 
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