Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A herd can be security or intimidating

The situation with the little heifer and her mother is getting stranger and stranger. Mama will nurse baby but it only works in the barn. Out of the barn mama is back in the herd and baby won't go there. She doesn't like the herd and mama doesn't like being out of the herd.

Saturday morning Farm Boss released mother and baby and we hoped for the best. Mother went into the herd. Calf retreated, actually ran as fast as she could, back to us and the barn. Getting close to the herd is intimidating to her, while the cow finds her security in the herd. There is no denying a herd is a big force with a lot of very large animals-- pros and cons to it.

Is this little heifer a reincarnated cat or some animal that doesn't like herd life? Did she have to be isolated with her mother at the exact wrong time to bond with the herd?

Saturday afternoon, we tried again. This time we decided to take the calf back to where the herd was grazing. After no little effort on Farm Boss's part, stubborn calf, we three got her to the herd. The calf would not move into it and her mother would not leave it.

We decided if he and I made a quick exit and watched from the distance that maybe the calf would go back to her mother and the herd for security. No, she just wandered toward the barn again-- a sad little lost soul out in the middle of the pastures, wandering through the sheep, but not a part of flock or herd.

In the evening Farm Boss got the mother and baby back into their pen but we had no solution to how this was going to be resolved.

So here you see the problem that has had me gritting my teeth and to which we have yet to figure out a solution; however, today is another day. Once again we will release the calf and mama to see if somehow they can find peace with the herd.
(All photos from Saturday, June 23.)


Dick said...

Good luck on that. I don't know enough about cattle to have any idea what to suggest. It sounds to me as though you are trying anything I'd come up with and more. In the meantime, do you have to feed the little one? I'd think that she would need to eat more often, like during the day while Mama is out with the herd.

We have been seeing in our local news about a dog that has adopted a litter of kittens after the mother cat was killed by a car. I guess she even nurses them. And it isn't a small dog, more like an Australian Sheppard, although that may not be the breed. It does make for some interesting photos. I can't help but wonder how those kittens will turn out as they mature. Will they know what they are?

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This is really kind of Heart Breaking, isn't it? And that Calf has the dearest sweetest face! I dearly hope you and FarmBoss are able to get these two "bonded" the way the both need....!
I would be pretty upset, too Rain.
What to do, What to do??

Rain said...

We fed the baby one bottle but if we gave her more, it would take away her incentive and the cow would dry up if her udder isn't used. It's a tough situation. I wrote more about it tomorrow but am resigned that we may not be able to save her. The issue will come down to her choice. The mother is doing her part. We gave her some medications for scours and in case she has something wrong that we can't see, an antibiotic but really we can't do more. Sometimes you just lose them :( Time will tell on this.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Wow, I never even thought about such a thing happening. Can the calf be bottle fed for a while? Your whole topic opens up a whole field of thought about security vs. learned behavior.

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Just saw in the comments that you've already tried the bottle feeding.