Calves

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A calf

A calf (plural, calves) is the young of domestic cattle.

Quotes[edit]

  • [About the trauma of the cows when they are separated from their calves] By proceeding in this manner, you empty the world of both the mother and the very young animal; you provoke extremely intense suffering, true despair. These are not nociceptive pathways that are stimulated here, but mental representations that are affected. Both cow and calf have been deprived of what made sense for them.
    • Boris Cyrulnik, Les animaux aussi ont des droits (2013), quoted in A Plea for the Animals by Matthieu Ricard, trans. Sherab Chödzin Kohn (Shambhala Publications, 2016), p. 106.
  • The very saddest sound in all my memory was burned into my awareness at age five on my uncle's dairy farm in Wisconsin. A cow had given birth to a beautiful male calf. The mother was allowed to nurse her calf but for a single night. On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn—only ten yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth—minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days—were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain. Since that age, whenever I hear anyone postulate that animals cannot really feel emotions, I need only to replay that torturous sound in my memory of that mother cow crying her bovine heart out to her infant.
  • No cow gives milk unless she gets pregnant and gives birth to a calf. (I remember one dairy farmer I visited insisting that the cow would be in pain unless she was milked; true, but only because she had just given birth to a calf who was no longer present.) The milk is meant for the calf. … But our greed is greater than any reasonable person could expect: we do not allow the calf even the small amount he or she would normally take in a day. We want it all. So the calf is separated from the cow immediately upon birth. The industry says this must happen instantaneously, for otherwise there is a risk—no, it is a certainty—that the two will bond. In fact, they have already bonded, just as much as would a human mother with her baby. The strong bond is inborn in all mammals. The terrible sound one hears on any dairy farm after a cow has given birth is the call of a lost calf, calling her mother, and the mother answering in desperation. If that is not suffering, I don't know the meaning of the word.
  • Of two men sharing with a calf the milk of that calf's mother one eyes the calf with the thought that his tender flesh would provide good meat for him and his friends to feast upon at his approaching birthday. The other thinks of the calf as his brother of the teat and is filled with affection for the young beast and his mother. I say to you, the latter is truly nourished by that calf's meat; while the first is poisoned thereby. Aye, many things are put in the belly that should be put in the heart.
  • Calves are notorious for their friskiness. We all have seen these boisterous youngsters gamboling across spacious pastures, their tender muscles firming up to support their increasing weight. Not so the calves raised in veal crates. The conditions of their confinement ensure that their muscles will remain limp so their flesh retains the degree of tenderness that, according to the Journal, “fulfill(s) the customers' requirement.”
  • The young calves sorely miss their mothers. They also miss something to suck on. The urge to suck is strong in a baby calf, as it is in a baby human. These calves have no teat to suck on, nor do they have any substitute. From their first day in confinement—which may well be only the third or fourth day of their lives—they drink from a plastic bucket. Attempts have been made to feed calves through artificial teats, but the task of keeping the teats clean and sterile is apparently not worth the producer's trouble. It is common to see calves frantically trying to suck some part of their stalls, although there is usually nothing suitable; and if you offer a veal calf your finger you will find that he immediately begins to suck on it, as human babies suck their thumbs. Later the calf develops a need to ruminate—that is, to take in roughage and chew the cud. But roughage is strictly forbidden because it contains iron and will darken the flesh, so, again, the calf may resort to vain attempts to chew the sides of his stall. Digestive disorders, including stomach ulcers, are common in veal calves. So is chronic diarrhea.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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