Friday, March 20, 2009

Signs of Spring ― Newborn Calf

This calf and his mother live on a nearby farm and enjoy the freedom of roaming and grazing on acres of pasture land, socializing with their herd and sleeping in a large and comfortable barn, the way most cattle lived before factory farms and agribusiness deprived them of their most basic rights: to enjoy open space and sunlight, eat a natural diet and form bonds with their young.

Seeing this herd always heartens me and gives me hope that the growing interest in organic food and growing intolerance of greed will end these inhumane practices and alleviate the suffering of millions of farm animals. It can't happen soon enough.

The following about cattle is from The World Animal Foundation:

Cows are sturdy yet gentle animals. They are social animals and form strong bonds with their families and friends that can last their entire lives. The bond between a cow and her calf is especially powerful. If a mother cow is caught on the opposite side of a fence from her calf, she will become alarmed, agitated and call frantically. If they remain separated, she will stay by the fence through blizzards, hunger, and thirst, waiting to be reunited with her baby. This bond continues even after the calf is fully grown. In non-commercial herds, cows have been observed nursing their male calves for up to three years.

Cattle have almost panoramic vision, which allows them to watch for predators or humans. They can see in color, except for red. They have an amazing sense of smell, and can detect scents more than six miles away. Cattle enjoy swimming and running in the moonlight, as they have been shown to remain active for a longer period between their two sleep sessions when the moon is full.

The lifespan of cattle averages 20 to 25 years. However, the lifespan of cattle raised for beef is significantly abbreviated. These animals are typically weaned at 6 to 10 months, live 3 to 5 months on range, spend 4 to 5 months being fattened in a feedlot, and are typically slaughtered at 15 to 20 months.

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