"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Meet the Cow (Chalk One Up for the Husband)

Homero has a friend who works at a local dairy. At any given time they have a few hundred cows and dozens of calves. Yesterday Homero got a call from this friend, saying there was a heifer calf available for free, if we wanted her. She had been injured somehow, probably kicked or trampled, and the owner didn't think she was going to recover fully, or quickly enough, or something. She was scheduled to be culled, but we could have her instead. 

Homero and I have argued a lot about cows lately (Imaginary Cows) and the family position on hypothetical cows had still not crystallized into unanimity, but when faced with an actual, cow, concrete and free, my resistance crumbled and so the baby cow came home with us. In the van. 

She's a scruffy little thing, and to be honest, she does look like a cull. Not only does she limp on her right hind foot, but she has a broken ear (the cartilage seems to be busted and she can't move it; it droops lifelessly) and she has a few small, open sores on her face. I asked our friend what was going on with her face and he said "oh they all get those." Inspires a lot of confidence, doesn't it?

I did some research (also called "googling") and found out that many people consider Jerseys to be perfectly acceptable beef cattle as far as flavor goes. In fact, they are known for their superior marbling. But they are a smaller breed, and relatively slow growing, taking a full two years to mature on grass. We will take our time deciding what to do with this little girl. If she does recover fully, we will probably breed her for a family milk cow - if not, she'll eventually become meat. In the meanwhile, she is a little bit lost.

The poor thing doesn't even know how to graze. She's never been out on grass. She was kept in a small pen, chained to the feed trough, where she was fed grain and a bit of alfalfa. At least this dairy doesn't use calf hutches - the calves are all together in one open building and they can see and hear each other. I know tonight she will be cold and confused. We have her in the small pasture with the three sided field shelter, which has alfalfa and water and a little grain in it. Hope she is okay in the morning.


Laura said...

Depending on what is wrong with her leg, she may not be able to carry a calf to term because of the weight. I've always liked jerseys - and I can attest to their tastiness!

Aimee said...

Hi Laura - thanks for your comment. Yes, I told my husband that we'd have to have a vet evaluate the leg before we have her bred. Not just the weight issue - if the injury is in the hip it might cause a lot of difficulty calving. We'll just wait and see.

Olive said...

I just love baby calves, Jerseys have the most beautiful eyes and loooong eye lashes.
Maybe try feeding her on some calf replacement milk for a while with a little molasses in it. Or have it suck a small girl's fingers with some molasses, it will become a friend for (it's) life. :)
Going to the cattle markets are a serious weakness of mine, I always come home with a baby (or 2) because I felt sorry for them, being parted from their mothers at such an early age.

The Idiot said...

Today's broken cow is tomorrow's smoked ribs!