Dave was filming the cows when he finally noticed the newborn calf. Unlike the other cattle, which were bathing in the pond to escape the strong sunshine, it was trapped. An electric fence separated the baby from its mother. And she was watching for Dave’s next move very carefully.
Regardless how calm an animal usually is, they can be fiercely protective of their young. Even docile cows have the potential to become dangerous slabs of muscle to defend their calves. So what would you do if you saw a momma cow frantic to save her struggling baby?
This was the challenge a big-hearted man called Dave faced on June 7, 2018. It was a warm day, and Dave was driving past a picturesque farm neighboring Millbrook in Ontario, Canada, when something in the fields caught his eye. As a result, he pulled over to get a better look.
To be more specific, Dave witnessed the farm’s cows making full use of a nearby pond. The huge animals frolicked in it like a swimming pool to stave off the beating sun. As a photography enthusiast, Dave had to capture the heart-warming sight.
With this in mind, he pulled over and went to get a closer look at the cavorting cattle. Shortly after, Dave noticed one cow that wasn’t engaging in water games with the others. Her ear tag identified her as “Flo.”
Ordinarily, Flo would probably be playing with her friends in the pond, especially on such a hot day. However, there was something bothering her. Flo was behaving very strangely, and thus drew Dave’s attention away from the splashing cattle.
Dave’s footage reveals Flo mooing loudly and using her hooves to dig furrows in the ground. Despite his clear love of animals, Dave’s expertise on cows is thin on the ground. It certainly isn’t enough to decipher Flo’s erratic behavior, but he knows something is wrong regardless.
Dave approaches the cow and notices a small shape in the long grass near frantic Flo. A closer inspection reveals the object is actually a living creature. The source of Flo’s agitation is her separation from her calf, lying outside the fence beyond her reach.
It appears that Flo gave birth on a hill in her paddock, which the newborn calf rolled down. It consequently slipped under the fence and couldn’t get back to its mom. What’s more, the calf must have been born earlier that day, since it still had its umbilical cord.
No one knows how long the calf was apart from Flo. However, a mom is critical to her newborn’s survival, and the baby was clearly suffering from their separation. It seems to be dehydrated, no doubt a result of the heat and its lack of nourishing milk.
In addition, the barrier keeping Flo apart from her calf is an electric fence. Dave can’t tell if Flo’s actions are calling for his help or trying to discourage his approach. Either way, he can’t just watch the calf die, so he puts his camera down to assist.
Unable to see a gate into the paddock, Dave was left with only one option: the electric fence. The video shows him trying to push the calf under the barrier, to the growing agitation of Flo. Her hooves are tearing up chunks of grass as she watches over the proceedings.
There is no way to avoid the electric fence, which is shocking Dave throughout his rescue mission. Not only is he concerned an involuntary yelp of pain could spook Flo, but there is also another issue. Getting the calf shocked seems unavoidable.
One of Dave’s worries is that the calf’s distress will incite Flo to charge through the fence at him. But when the baby is halfway under, Flo seems to visibly calm down. Then she focuses her attention on the calf and greets it as Dave pushes it towards her.
The animal rescuer reunites the cows with no casualties to either himself or the calf, and Flo nuzzles her calf lovingly. Then the cows walk off across the paddock, no doubt grateful for Dave’s kind intervention. It later turned out that Flo’s humans didn’t know she was a mom.
Dave subsequently accompanied the farmer and his wife into the field, where they treated the calf’s umbilical cord and tagged his ear. He also met Flo and the baby properly. They both gave him a sniff of acknowledgment and returned to the farm.
It was almost as if Flo recognized Dave as her calf’s rescuer, and according to research, she did. Although cows have a reputation for being dumb animals, they’re actually far more intelligent than people realize. For example, they’re capable of remembering human faces.
Neurologists Kristin Allen and Lori Marino recently published an essay called “The Psychology of Cows.” The work revealed that bovines actually have great long-term memories. Psychology Today cited some of the essay’s insights on November 2, 2017.
“Calves as well as adult cows show learned fear responses to humans who have previously handled them in a rough manner,” Psychology Today quoted. It also described how cows have a complex range of emotions. They show anxiety, fear, happiness and even grief.
Tragically, despite being such expressive creatures, a cow’s well-being is often overlooked in the food industry. “Farmed animals are exempt from most state anti-cruelty laws, and there are no federal laws protecting farmed animals,” Allen and Marino stated. Some may hope that changes for these wonderful animals in the future.