In the meat industry, breeding cows, like most farm animals, are often perceived as mere commodities – available only to push out calf after calf until they too follow in their babies’ footsteps and are sold for slaughter.
A mother and calf rarely spend more than six months together, most calves are taken soon after birth.
As Kris Ingram, manager of Signal Hill Sanctuary in Yass River, Australia tells OGP, “A breeding cow isn’t allowed to wean her calf naturally, because she takes too long. Calves are given high fat, high protein feed for a few weeks to allow them to adjust, then they’re forcibly removed from their mothers.”
“Calves and cows are in separate paddocks, never to touch each other again. Both will grieve, both will try to find their way back to each other, and both will suffer the trauma that you and I would suffer if we were separated from our children by force, before we are ready to let them go,” Kris continues.
A Murray Grey cow named Granny, who came to live at Signal Hill just a few months ago, spent 15 years of her life as a breeding cow.
Unlike thousands of others in the meat industry, she was treated quite well at her cattle farm, which is known for the high quality, health, and condition of their animals.
Despite this better environment and the fact that Granny was known by a name instead of a number, Granny was still forced to be separated from the 12 calves she birthed – all of whom eventually were destined to be sold for meat.
After 15 years of service, Kris tells us that a person with connections to her cattle farmer decided that “she deserved to live out her twilight years in peace and comfort, rather than being sold on to a meat auction.”
And so, Granny arrived into the caring hands of Signal Hill – a relatively new sanctuary set out on 200 acres of natural bushland near the Yass River. The land once served as a large milking farm, but as the organization writes on Facebook, “its future will be very different.” The sanctuary is currently seeking funds to make this a fully realized dream via a crowdfunding campaign.
Since Granny’s arrival, this gentle and beautiful girl has become the “cow in charge,” keeping watch over everybody. About a week or so ago, Kris and sanctuary partner, Lyndel, discovered that Granny was pregnant…
…but what they didn’t expect was that her baby would come so soon, arriving just yesterday, a day before Valentine’s Day!
In honor of the international day of love, Kris and Lyndel named Granny’s calf, Valentine.
Kris reports that Valentine has been doing very well since she arrived into this world not long ago. Granny has already introduced her to the team to ensure that everyone “will follow the rules and back off when she tells them to.”
Granny is even skeptical of having Kris and Lyndel near Valentine, unable to yet understand “the difference between bearing a calf [at the sanctuary] and bearing a calf at a farm,” as Kris tells us.
“That difference of course is that Valentine won’t be tagged. She won’t be taken. She won’t be hurt. She won’t ever experience anything but love, respect, and adoration from the humans in her life,” Kris says.
“[Granny] knows what she’s doing, she’s done this plenty of times before. The difference is that this baby will stay with her until the end,” Kris writes on Facebook.
For the very first time, Granny will now be able to experience the full life of her baby — she will be her Valentine forever!
As Kris tells us, “She will never grieve the loss of her baby. She will never have to watch her be put onto a truck and driven away, never to be seen again. This time, she will truly be a mother.”
Lead image source: Signal Hill Sanctuary