(TOUCHING TALES) A dairy cow made the tough choice to hide one of her calves after giving birth to twins. As her fifth birth, the cow remembered her previous agony and knew that both of her babies would be taken away, unless she tried to save one. The intelligence and care displayed by this mothering cow is both heartbreaking and breathtaking. Read this touching tale, told by a veterinarian, about an amazing display of motherly love that proves animals love and feel. — Global Animal

After delivering her fifth calf, a mother dairy cow decides to hide one of her newborn twins to save its life. Photo Credit: APEX

By Holly Cheever, DVM, reprinted from Action for Animals

I would like to tell you a story that is as true as it is heartbreaking. When I first graduated from Cornell’s School of Veterinary Medicine, I went into a busy dairy practice in Cortland County. I became a very popular practitioner due to my gentle handling of the dairy cows. One of my clients called me one day with a puzzling mystery: his Brown Swiss cow, having delivered her fifth calf naturally on pasture the night before, brought the new baby to the barn and was put into the milking line, while her calf was once again removed from her. Her udder, though, was completely empty, and remained so for several days.

As a new mother, she would normally be producing close to one hundred pounds (12.5 gallons) of milk daily; yet, despite the fact that she was glowing with health, her udder remained empty. She went out to pasture every morning after the first milking, returned for milking in the evening, and again was let out to pasture for the night — this was back in the days when cattle were permitted a modicum of pleasure and natural behaviors in their lives — but never was her udder swollen with the large quantities of milk that are the hallmark of a recently-calved cow.

I was called to check this mystery cow two times during the first week after her delivery and could find no solution to this puzzle. Finally, on the eleventh day post calving, the farmer called me with the solution: he had followed the cow out to her pasture after her morning milking, and discovered the cause: she had delivered twins, and in a bovine’s “Sophie’s Choice,” she had brought one to the farmer and kept one hidden in the woods at the edge of her pasture, so that every day and every night, she stayed with her baby — the first she had been able to nurture FINALLY—and her calf nursed her dry with gusto.

Though I pleaded for the farmer to keep her and her bull calf together, she lost this baby, too—off to the hell of the veal crate.

Think for a moment of the complex reasoning this mama exhibited: first, she had memory — memory of her four previous losses, in which bringing her new calf to the barn resulted in her never seeing him/her again (heartbreaking for any mammalian mother). Second, she could formulate and then execute a plan: if bringing a calf to the farmer meant that she would inevitably lose him/her, then she would keep her calf hidden, as deer do, by keeping her baby in the woods lying still till she returned. Third — and I do not know what to make of this myself — instead of hiding both, which would have aroused the farmer’s suspicion (pregnant cow leaves the barn in the evening, unpregnant cow comes back the next morning without offspring), she gave him one and kept one herself. I cannot tell you how she knew to do this—it would seem more likely that a desperate mother would hide both.

All I know is this: there is a lot more going on behind those beautiful eyes than we humans have ever given them credit for, and as a mother who was able to nurse all four of my babies and did not have to suffer the agonies of losing my beloved offspring, I feel her pain.

Holly Cheever, DVM

Vice President, New York State Humane Association Member

Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association’s Leadership Council

Read More Animals Rights Articles: http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-bovine.html

Check out this story about more ways animals are like humans: Neurologist: Animals Have Spiritual Experiences




  1. but this is a cow, a mammal that is a herd specieses. But I guess that is the point of "speciesism", to say "only mammals and birds love and care for their offspring". It's not right for me to ask for a reptile that shows love for their offspring. And is there a way to tell if social insects love the larve they raise? Do bees love their baby sisters?

  2. Animals existed millions of years before humans ever came in to existence and they are not the property, play-thing or COMMODITY of humans to do with as they wish. Animals do not exist for humans' USE or pleasure. Animals exist INDEPENDENTLY of humans' involvement and presence, and should be respected and treated as equals. HUMAN BEINGS IRRADIATE THEIR OWN PLANET. Human beings are the cancer and enemy of this Earth, over and above any microscopic virus. Humans are the problem. Always have been. Always will be.

  3. I bet cows would choose safer sex if they had the choice : )

    Who would give birth to a child if they knew it'd be taken away from them?
    And who knows?
    Maybe they'd also rather abort their children in a very early stage than handing it over to the farmers who'd make their baby suffer!

  4. But even these "older" animals… Are they not then bonded to the love of their own lives? Is that taken into account when their "time" comes around?

    For the record I AM against eating meat because it causes the unnecessary suffering and end of life to creatures who are sentient and who can suffer. Their lives belong to them… And are not ours to steal way for monetary gain or momentary pleasure. Yep. Definitely against flesh consumption.

  5. P.S. Lois – It's very difficult to be "unkind" to a collection of cells that are not "born". Especially when/if allowed to come to life it burdens a woman, her husband/boyfriend, family, society for the rest of their collective lives. Some people choose NOT to sacrifice others when it can be avoided.

  6. Hello Lois – Wouldn't cow's "natural instincts" also be to avoid getting their throats slit? Yet… Isn't this the most common end to all dairy cows even at the places where the farmer "treats their animals with great respect and true love"?

    You also say that (dairy) farmers are very kind people. And so I (respectfully) challenge your definitions of what "love" and "kindness" are. Love includes thinking of the best interests of the other – Without reservations and without the need of "conditions" that the other has to live up to. Love doesn't measure the "value" of the life of the other in terms of profit.

    So if YOU think using a living being for monetary ends even if it means frustrating their most basic desire to nourish their young…AND if it means calculating the end of their lives by way of getting cut up in a hundred different "profitable" pieces – Then it is YOU who is childish and misinformed. It appears that it is YOU who desires a fantasy, magical, rose-colored-glasses type view of reality. Absolutely NONE of those practices reflect "love", "kindness" or compassion. The wise know it doesn't…. Please Lois wake yourself out of the comfy slumber of denial!

  7. How many of you people commenting here are pro-abortion? If any of you are then you have no argument against dairying or any form of farming. Being a vegan or vegetarian won't get you off the hook, either. Many dairy farmers are very kind people and treat their animals with great respect and true love! Very few, if any, of you know anything about dairy cows or dairy farming Furthermore, if that cow was producing 12.5 gallons of milk a day, that calf could not drink it all, no where near! Cows have memories, that's for sure, but this story doesn't show that, not at all! Cows always hide their calves, some better than others, that's their natural instinct. The writer says she became very popular because of her "gentle handling" of the dairy animals. She's a DVM, which means she worked for dairy farmers! Because dairy famers are the people who have dairy cows, pretty elementary stuff! If these dairy farmers liked her because she was kind to the animals, sounds like they were pretty good people, after all. Most of you people commenting need to wise up and join the real world! Your responses, for the most part, were childish and uninformed!