What’s Going On?

What’s wrong with this picture?

So there’s Clarabelle, the white-faced cow. And in front of her is her little white-faced calf, born in late March.  Just standing around enjoying the day…. except….

What’s going on behind Clarabelle?

What’s Eunice’s calf doing back there?

Nursing?  From Clarabelle? Can’t be…

Well….. yes, it actually can be. Eunice’s calf is a thief, nurses from whatever cow is nearby, usually Clarabelle. She puts up with it for a while, but then gets angry and pushes the calf away.

Thieving is not uncommon among calves and first-time mothers like Clarabelle. It’s up to the cows to refuse to allow other calves nurse from them, and experienced cows won’t let it happen, even for a second. I’ve seen experienced older cows lower their head at a calf and send it flying. They aren’t hurt, but they learn that they are not supposed to nurse from any cow but their own mother.

The other night, Eunice bawled all night at her calf.

All….night….long….. Mooo..moooo….MOOOOOOOOO.   Her udder was huge. Apparantly, her calf, who had probably been thieving milk from other cows all the previous day, was full and didn’t want to nurse from Eunice.

“I’m full…no thanks Ma.”

Eunice was borderline frantic and no doubt in pain. The next morning her calf must have finally nursed because all the bawling came to an end.

Right now all the first time cows are in a small pasture by themselves. But come May, they will go down to the summer pasture with the older experienced cows.

There, among older wiser cows, Eunice’s calf will finally learn to behave.



Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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11 Responses

  1. Gretchen says:

    The animal world is so amazing if we take the time to observe. We had two cats who were sisters. Both had kittens at the same time and all laid in the bed nursing together. there were 13 cats altogether. It didn’t matter which mama or baby. Thanks for all the great pictures and videos.

  2. Tina says:

    Ahhhhh. They are so cute. Poor Mama’s.

  3. Alica says:

    I find it interesting how they know who they belong too, even when with a large group. Poor Eunice!

    • Suzanne says:

      They find each other by scent. When a cow approaches a group of calves, she’ll sniff each one in turn to find the one that’s hers.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I just love your farm!

  5. Mandy says:

    Poor Mama cow! Silly baby! =)

  6. Karen says:

    I love how they all have distinct personalities and quirky traits. xx

    • Suzanne says:

      The more time I spend around cows, the more I realize they all have different personalities. Pretty neato.

  7. Louise S says:

    Would it work to put Eunice and her calf in a separate “area” so the little thief, errrrr, I mean baby, would have to nurse from his mother? Poor Eunice, suffering all night………. 🙁

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