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How Not To Feed a Baby Cow
We Visit the Farm
Many years ago, my friend Janice and her husband ran a dairy operation in the middle of Pennsylvania. One spring, on the way to Winona, Minnesota, my ex and I stopped to visit them. It was calving time, and the first calf arrived the day before we did. After Janice served up a big-farm welcome dinner that evening, I followed her out to the barn to help with the evening chores.
I Reach Out To Make a New Friend
In a small stall padded in sweet hay lay a calf, all 60 pounds of him. Janice and I entered the stall, closing the gate behind us. The calf flicked his ears, looked up at us, but didn't seem too interested. I reached out to him, stroked his head and back, and let him nuzzle my hand. He and I were communicating just fine. Janice asked if I'd like to feed him. "Sure," I said. He was cute.
Janice left me in the stall with him, closing the gate behind her. I studied his perfection. Smooth coat, soft nose, deep brown eyes, limbs deceptively delicate-looking as he stood up, continuing to nuzzle my hand. A few minutes later Janice returned carrying a translucent plastic bottle topped with a huge black nipple, full of fresh, warm, cow's milk. It was so heavy she had to hold it with both hands, extending it to me over the top of the gate.
"What do I do now?" I asked, turning away from the calf and reaching for the milk.
"Nature takes care of itself," she said.
Cute Turns Not-so-cute
And nature did. Before I could get a good grip on the bottle, the calf charged me, stuck his nose between my knees and yanked his head straight up, hard. (Ladies and gentlemen, you may be able to identify with my sensation at that moment, if you remember falling a certain way while learning to ride a bicycle.) The milk bottle flew to the rear of the stall, I fell backwards over the calf and onto my butt, and damn if the calf wasn't still all over me looking for that milk.
About a week later, on the way back from Winona, my ex and I returned to Janice's farm. Janice asked us to pull our truck up to the back door. She said she had something for us to take home. We pulled up the truck as she and her husband went back into the house. They returned a few minutes later and loaded the back of our truck with two huge coolers filled with 30 pounds of fresh-packed, milk-fed veal.
We said our thanks and good-byes and rolled on down the drive.
And just in case you are wondering...no, we didn't ask. We didn't want to know.
The Proper Way To Feed a Baby Cow
- Calf Being Bottle Fed
As you will see in this short video, the proper way to feed a baby cow is to put something substantial, like a lot of timber, between you and the calf.
- Emma Bottle Feeds Baby Calves
View this delightful blog post from BehindTheTimes of a young girl feeding a baby cow. Watch the short video and notice the safety barrier and the proper instruction from the grownups.
Another Proper Way To Feed a Baby Cow
A Delightful Journey into Cow Facts and Trivia
Hubber drbj complements this telling of a baby cow adventure with cow facts and trivia which are funny, intriguing, and, well, horrifying too. Read the Hub Cow Facts and Cow Trivia to get a broader view into the lives of cows and how they impact us in ways we we never thought about before.