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Guernsey Cows

Updated on March 27, 2011

My children were born and raised in Guernsey; a small island in the English Channel. Our house backed onto the “Common”. (The common is the name given to acres and acres of grassy land available to everyone). This is where the Guernsey cows grazed. It was not uncommon to see new born calves outside your window daily in the summer months. The mother cow is usually on a long tether; but the calves can roam free. However, they never go too far away from their mother; they need her comfort, security and of course, her milk!

If they are males, (bulls) they are not allowed to stay with their moms. We often used to see young male calves by themselves, tethered. We would go out to spend time with them; all they want is your company, a little comfort and to suck, on anything! When the farmer comes around, he has a bucket of milk for these young bulls to drink. He puts his finger into the milk, and the calf sucks his finger; the calf learns to get his milk by sucking it up. (these poor males who were usually taken whilst young and succulent for slaughter). The female calves got to stay with their mom a little longer. When my children and I visited the cows and calves everyday; we fell in love with them. They are such gentle creatures, with huge brown eyes and long eye-lashes. (The Guernsey cow is one of the most beautiful and productive of all breed of cows). The cows would ‘MOO’ urgenty as we approached. They were so happy to see us, they kicked up their back legs high into the air, and would come running over to meet us! Then rub their heads into our jackets or hands; they love to have their head stroked; just like a dog, cat or horse.

One time, when we went over to a young calf, he sucked on our jeans and our fingers and anything he could get a hold of! He was mooing very loudly and was very hungry. So I went inside the house and got a pint of Guernsey milk. (Our milk arrives on our doorstep from the milkman in 1 pint cartons). The milk is rich and yellow in color. I poured the milk into a bowl, then using my finger like I’d seen the farmer do, the calf was able to suck up all the milk in seconds! He had milk all over his face, When the time came for the farmer to take him away later, we were sad because we had grown very fond of him.

The Guernsey cow is known as an excellent grazer and a cow made for milk production. Because of her grazing abilities and gentle disposition, the farmer is able to leave her out on the common. The Guernsey has little to no problems giving birth and need much less feed than other breeds. As such, she is the ideal candidate for dairy production. Farmers with Guernsey cows can make a huge profit from her milk, her low maintenance and her calves.

As a non-farmer, all I know is that they are lovely creatures and I think would make great house or yard pets if we had big enough houses and gardens (and tons of hay and grass)!


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