Mother’s Day: The Story of Arnold and Friends

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Mother’s Day: The Story of Arnold and Friends

This is part two in a series of stories about mother cows.  Have you gotten your cow ribbon yet?

Arnold the calf


We can’t tell you about the mothers who gave birth to Arnold and his friends, but we know that they are only a few of the millions of dairy cows who are impregnated year after year only to lose their calves within hours of their birth so that we can drink their milk.  These mothers may already be dead, having been sent to slaughter for cheap beef–a common fate of dairy cows whose bodies give out at 4 or 5 years of age, only a quarter of their lifespan.  The average Canadian dairy cow gives 9,519 kilograms of milk a year, seven times more than she would naturally.

conrad the calf


Though many of the male calves born to these cows are raised for veal or slaughtered outright as a byproduct, others are sent to auction.  Such was the fate of eleven calves, including Arnold, Tweed, Conrad, Milbank, and Orlando, in 2011.  Just days old, the eleven babies were sold for a few dollars each to a farmer who planned to raise them for cheap beef.   When the calves contracted pneumonia, he opted not to spend the $20 or so that it would have cost to provide proper treatment for all eleven, choosing instead to shoot them.

Millbank the calf


Authorities intervened after the farmer had killed six calves, and he was arrested–not for animal cruelty, but for violating his probation by discharging a firearm.  Rescuers from Farm Sanctuary stepped in and saved the remaining calves, who were extremely underweight and dehydrated, as well as unfed, as their milk replacer was mouldy.  They were taken immediately to the Cornell University Hospital for Animals to be given antibiotics.

Orlando the calf


The oldest and strongest calf, Arnold, recovered first and was released after one day, but his four friends were slower to heal and spent days in the hospital.  In addition to pneumonia, they were suffering from ringworm, giardia, umbilical hernias, Bovine Papular Stomatitis, hypoglycemia, and sinus arrhythmia, among other conditions.   Their intensive medical treatment continued even after all of them were released to Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter.

Tweed the calf


In a safe environment, the calves finally began to flourish.  Orlando, who at one point was the sickest of all, has revealed himself to be playful and goofy.  His best friend, Conrad, the smallest calf, is also the sweetest.  Millbank is very shy, as is Tweed–though he appears to be learning some bravery from Arnold!  It’s hard to imagine that all five of them were almost just another casualty of the dairy industry, and now have the opportunity to live 20 to 25 years at Farm Sanctuary.

(Information about Arnold and his friends taken from Farm Sanctuary’s 2011 Featured Rescues.)

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