Monday, June 1, 2015

Those Crazy Cows

The space alien went back to her home planet today.  During her visit here she was generally a good citizen and a good representative of her species.

She even got a couple of mournful brays when she left this afternoon.

She got rather attached to Tessa in particular while she was here.  The only time I got a bit nervous about having her here was the few times I took Tessa out of the pasture and Shannon had an absolute fit.  These Ayrshire cows are proving to be just a wee bit neurotic (that's the diplomatic term for totally effing psycho).

Farm Buddy had three of these cows who were all due to calve this Spring.  They all came from a more traditional dairy where the cows are in stanchions and they take the babies away from them right at birth. We thought they would be happier over here where they get to live outside with other cows and keep their own babies.

Not so much as it turns out.

The first one had her baby about a month ago and fortunately, she was still in the barn at the time.  Everything went well with the birth, but the cow totally freaked out and tried to kill the calf.  We separated them and tried to milk her out, but the cow was having none of it and was just outright dangerous.  Rather than risk getting killed, we gave up and she went back the her original farm to see if she would calm down there.  Turns out she had a bit of a history as a difficult cow and she continues to be.

Then Jane calved a couple of weeks ago and SHE rejected her baby as well.  What is up with that??

FB decided fine, no problem, she'll just bottle feed the calf and it will be easier to milk the cow anyway.  Except it isn't because that crazy cow is now fixated on FB.  She tries to kill her own calf and won't have anything to do with him under any circumstances and then decides that FB should take his place and be her calf.  Sorta sounds kind of cute right?

NO.  Definitely not.  Especially as she paces back and forth bellowing all day and even charged through the fence, ripping down about 500 feet of it.  That is no laughing matter when you think about the possibility of all the other cows getting out and running down the state highway causing wrecks and killing people. 

After two weeks, she is starting to calm down a little, but still acts like a crazy stalker.  On top of that, she is so wound up that she doesn't even produce much milk. 
So then there is Shannon, number three, who is due to calve in two days.  We are in a state of trepidation.

They act like nice, normal cows as long as everything is going their way and there are no babies invloved.  

Shannon is perfectly content just as long as her favorite horse is near by.

Tessa even misses her just a little.

The hope is that Shannon will calve normally and be good to her calf like a normal cow would.  If all goes well, she might even adopt Jane's calf as well so he will have a mom.

She took one look at him and got pretty possessive right away.  We are hoping that if she gets to know him before her calf comes she will be more likely to adopt him and also not be freaked out by her own baby.  They can't all be crazy right?  One out of three isn't asking for too much is it?


  1. What a shame. I've never heard of such behavior, but what do I know. All dairies remove the calves right away. Could they be breeding cows that have lost their mothering instinct?

  2. Those poor former dairy cows have trouble adjusting from what I can tell from other blogs. It's like they've been traumatized by having their babies taken away so soon. They forget how to be a mom?? I hope your last cow has her baby soon and accepts both her own and your cutie from Jane.

  3. What type of cow is Shannon? That calf is adorable. Everybody loves Tessa. Who knew cows were anything but docile and beautiful?
    Laura Braitman just wrote a book called Animal Madness. I heard her on NPR.
    Donkeys would NEVER reject their babies: comment, FB? :)

    1. I worked on a dairy for seven years and had my own for another five. I always worked with Jersey cows, and they are fantastic mothers. I am not sure what this is about these cows, but I believe Shannon will be a good mom. Jane and Shannon are Ayrshires. Shannon had a calf last June that was taken away from her (at her former home), and when she came to my farm in November, I gave her a calf that was a couple of weeks old that I had purchased. She very happily adopted this calf and raised him up, so I am hoping she will do the same with her own and Jane's calf. Jane IS nice to me, as she is totally crazy about me, which is a little annoying, but she is getting better than she was. I think she was afraid of her calf for some dumb reason. My beef cows are also very good mothers.
      No comment on the donkey thing, but Bess' mother is a SUPER mother, and I bet that Bess will be too!! Don't you all want to see more pictures of BESS? I mean, who wouldn't?

    2. Oooh yes, more pictures of Bess, please. LOTS more pictures of Bess. And of Shannon being a good mom to her calf and to the little rejected one. Also, more words wouldn't be bad. Words about your farm, your experiences, wisdom, everyday life on Farm Buddy's farm, you know. That would be great. Do you have a name for your blog yet?? ;-)

  4. good luck to farm buddy on that!

  5. I raised purebred and commercial cattle all my life and there were time when a mother does not accept a calf, but as a rancher we select for good maternal....dairy's select for milk! Milk and milk! Livestock is always and adventure as I know you know!

  6. I did not know that Ayrshires were so tempremental!

    1. They are definitely interesting, to say the least!!

  7. good luck with the calving! I hope that it all goes well.