Mourning cow - How long does it last?

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Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by MeggieSaunders » Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:53 pm

Hi everyone,

Newbie to CattleToday forum.

The vet helped us put down (and cremated) a calf yesterday because it was sick and blind. Now the mother is wondering around the paddocks mooing and looking for her calf - she started at 2am! She's so determined to find her calf that she's roamed away from the big herd.

When I go out to the pasture the cow will come to me and follow me around. I think she does this because she remembers that I was the one bottle feeding the calf. The cow seems to calm down (lays down and closes her eyes) when I stay with her but as soon as I start walking away begins wandering around and mooing. It's so sad to watch and hear her.

Anyone know how long the mourning period lasts? It's been 16 hours since we took her calf away. I'm stressing out for the cow and I also ask the question because I need my beauty sleep. ;-)

Meggie



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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Buck Randall » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:32 pm

MeggieSaunders wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:53 pm
Hi everyone,

Newbie to CattleToday forum.

The vet helped us put down (and cremated) a calf yesterday because it was sick and blind. Now the mother is wondering around the paddocks mooing and looking for her calf - she started at 2am! She's so determined to find her calf that she's roamed away from the big herd.

When I go out to the pasture the cow will come to me and follow me around. I think she does this because she remembers that I was the one bottle feeding the calf. The cow seems to calm down (lays down and closes her eyes) when I stay with her but as soon as I start walking away begins wandering around and mooing. It's so sad to watch and hear her.

Anyone know how long the mourning period lasts? It's been 16 hours since we took her calf away. I'm stressing out for the cow and I also ask the question because I need my beauty sleep. ;-)

Meggie
Every cow is different, but most usually quiet down after a couple days.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Rafter S » Wed Jul 22, 2020 1:41 pm

Welcome to the forum. It will likely just taper off over the next few days, so she'll gradually spend less time looking and calling for the calf and more time with usual activities (grazing, resting, etc).
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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by cowgal604 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:05 pm

I have had some of my girls cry out for days until they lost their moo. I would be a bit careful where you place her though. My cows do not do well when I separate them from the main herd when they have a loss. Makes it worse and I have had some jump fences over it.

I mean...if this isn't proof right here that the dairy industry is damaging to livestock then I just don't know what is...

Cows are more emotional than most farmers will admit.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by farmerjan » Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:58 pm

And many dairy cows wouldn't give more than a seconds thought to a calf. Don't put down the dairy industry just because you have beef animals and can allow them to have and raise their own calf. If it weren't for the dairy farmers, you would never have gotten the crossbreds for bottle calves to raise as pets so that they could give you a pretty good start to a herd.

Our red poll cattle will carry on for more than a week after we pull feeders off them, 5-700 lb calves that go off to the weaning pen and barely look back but for the first 24 hours..... they are a very maternal breed.

I have the best of both worlds in many ways, with the dairy animals and using them as nurse cows and milking for the house. We cannot provide for the masses doing it like that.... because there are too many possibilities for diseases also with "sharing the teat".
Yes we have bred out the mothering instinct from most dairy breeds to some extent.... But there are way more that will pay prefunctory attention to a calf, and not get very bent out of shape when it is gone.
I have beef cows that are VERY GLAD for the calf to be gone and never look back after weaning. And many that have had a dead calf that try their da#@est to get that dead calf to get up. That is instinct; natures way to get them to want to accept and protect and raise that calf. They don't think it through. There are cows that could barely give a tinkers d#@n; no different than saying all that all human mothers are meant to be mothers and they will miss their babies.....
It is sad that the cow is mourning the loss....nature is telling her that she needs to find the baby, and she is feeling the pressure from the milk back up. I feel bad for mine that have lost a calf for whatever reason. But I am not going to impart HUMAN FEELINGS on that cow. They will look for and want the calf, they will accept it is gone after a couple of days, and they will go back to doing normal cow activities.
Cows are not so "emotional" as they are instinctional. And people can reason it out, even though they will not be able to control their emotions with reason; compared to a cow that you can't explain it to her and she will understand.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Rafter S » Wed Jul 22, 2020 3:39 pm

farmerjan wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:58 pm
And many dairy cows wouldn't give more than a seconds thought to a calf. Don't put down the dairy industry just because you have beef animals and can allow them to have and raise their own calf. If it weren't for the dairy farmers, you would never have gotten the crossbreds for bottle calves to raise as pets so that they could give you a pretty good start to a herd.

Our red poll cattle will carry on for more than a week after we pull feeders off them, 5-700 lb calves that go off to the weaning pen and barely look back but for the first 24 hours..... they are a very maternal breed.

I have the best of both worlds in many ways, with the dairy animals and using them as nurse cows and milking for the house. We cannot provide for the masses doing it like that.... because there are too many possibilities for diseases also with "sharing the teat".
Yes we have bred out the mothering instinct from most dairy breeds to some extent.... But there are way more that will pay prefunctory attention to a calf, and not get very bent out of shape when it is gone.
I have beef cows that are VERY GLAD for the calf to be gone and never look back after weaning. And many that have had a dead calf that try their da#@est to get that dead calf to get up. That is instinct; natures way to get them to want to accept and protect and raise that calf. They don't think it through. There are cows that could barely give a tinkers d#@n; no different than saying all that all human mothers are meant to be mothers and they will miss their babies.....
It is sad that the cow is mourning the loss....nature is telling her that she needs to find the baby, and she is feeling the pressure from the milk back up. I feel bad for mine that have lost a calf for whatever reason. But I am not going to impart HUMAN FEELINGS on that cow. They will look for and want the calf, they will accept it is gone after a couple of days, and they will go back to doing normal cow activities.
Cows are not so "emotional" as they are instinctional. And people can reason it out, even though they will not be able to control their emotions with reason; compared to a cow that you can't explain it to her and she will understand.
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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by cowgal604 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:05 pm

farmerjan wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 2:58 pm
And many dairy cows wouldn't give more than a seconds thought to a calf. Don't put down the dairy industry just because you have beef animals and can allow them to have and raise their own calf. If it weren't for the dairy farmers, you would never have gotten the crossbreds for bottle calves to raise as pets so that they could give you a pretty good start to a herd.

Our red poll cattle will carry on for more than a week after we pull feeders off them, 5-700 lb calves that go off to the weaning pen and barely look back but for the first 24 hours..... they are a very maternal breed.

I have the best of both worlds in many ways, with the dairy animals and using them as nurse cows and milking for the house. We cannot provide for the masses doing it like that.... because there are too many possibilities for diseases also with "sharing the teat".
Yes we have bred out the mothering instinct from most dairy breeds to some extent.... But there are way more that will pay prefunctory attention to a calf, and not get very bent out of shape when it is gone.
I have beef cows that are VERY GLAD for the calf to be gone and never look back after weaning. And many that have had a dead calf that try their da#@est to get that dead calf to get up. That is instinct; natures way to get them to want to accept and protect and raise that calf. They don't think it through. There are cows that could barely give a tinkers d#@n; no different than saying all that all human mothers are meant to be mothers and they will miss their babies.....
It is sad that the cow is mourning the loss....nature is telling her that she needs to find the baby, and she is feeling the pressure from the milk back up. I feel bad for mine that have lost a calf for whatever reason. But I am not going to impart HUMAN FEELINGS on that cow. They will look for and want the calf, they will accept it is gone after a couple of days, and they will go back to doing normal cow activities.
Cows are not so "emotional" as they are instinctional. And people can reason it out, even though they will not be able to control their emotions with reason; compared to a cow that you can't explain it to her and she will understand.
I feel the best farmers are the ones that admit to the weaknesses of the industry. Denying the fact that cows grieve the loss of their calf, whether that death or removal is ridiculous. It’s why so many consumers hate the dairy industry. I understand and respect it’s purpose. But I also respect the facts.

I wish I never peeled my now cows off the dairy floors they came from. Their story isn’t a happy one so please don’t pay thanks to that. I wish they had a better start. Cows are emotional animals. There are better ways to do things.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Butterbean_Farms » Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:55 pm

In my opinion the best farmers are the ones who don’t confuse an animals instinct with human emotion.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Dsth » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:31 am

:welcome: Gee Meggie; for a newbie, seems like you "stirred the pot" a little bit with your first post. I was born into the dairy business and milked for over forty years before getting into the beef business. I wish that I could have read those dang cows minds to find out why they would kick me so often. I will share my thoughts since I have worked with both dairy and beef. I know some dairy cows were really protective of their newborns but don't remember any that spent much time searching for the calf once they were separated. My beef cows are very different. I have had calves that the vet said would probably not survive because of various reasons but did because the mommy just kept encouraging the calf to get up or nurse or whatever she thought it needed to do. The ones that didn't make it, the cow would act like yours for about three days probably for an average. Can't verify if it is emotions or instincts but I felt sorry for the cows that lost a calf. Seems like you may feel the same based on your post. Hope all works out well for you and welcome to the Cattle today forum.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by 76 Bar » Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:42 am

Thoughtful/insightful & kind hearted post Dsth. Thank you. :nod:

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by cowgal604 » Fri Aug 07, 2020 4:25 pm

Butterbean_Farms wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:55 pm
In my opinion the best farmers are the ones who don’t confuse an animals instinct with human emotion.
Right...

Because science should be ignored here right? I mean, if you had trailers of dogs being taken to be killed there would be a big riot wouldn't there? But yet bovine have the exact emotional brain power to a dog. I suggest you do more research on the differences between "instinct" and "emotion". A cow is a mammal. Some of the comments on this board about how to manage animals is barbaric. That is not farming, :bang:

Here is one of thousands of paraphrased articles for you to view on studies to show emotions is far greater than instinct in cattle, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog ... ndividuals

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by farmerjan » Fri Aug 07, 2020 9:41 pm

So why are you raising and selling any cattle if it is cruel to break up the families, if it is cruel to castrate and cause any stress and pain to these animals? If you are getting so much money for the animals you are selling, then you are contributing to the stress and emotional pain they are feeling as they will surely know that they are going to be killed to be "BEEF" for someone to eat. Unless you are a total vegetarian, then you cannot actually promote this article in psychology today... If that is the case, then you should not have more than a few to graze the grass where they can live out their life in peace and freedom. You should not have a bull or breed AI (as that is unnatural) because if you increase the number of animals then you will soon outgrow the natural available feed for them. And if they breed, there will be a certain percentage of bull calves, but it is cruel to band or castrate them.... so then you will have breeding going on unchecked. So where do the cows draw the line in incest with their sons breeding back their sisters and the fathers screwing the daughters????
I never said that the cows didn't feel the loss of their calves. But you are putting human emotions and REASONING on animals that for the most part, are acting on instinct alone. Instinct will have any male breeding any female that is in heat.... where are your human emotions and feelings and reasonings?
And for every act of CRUELTY, I can show you acts of kindness towards animals that have gone above and beyond....

So everytime you sell an animal to someone for beef; or a heifer to someone who can breed her to raise their own beef, stop and think about this article that you are so enamored of. And then go ahead and sell it anyway for the money it will bring you to help pay for you to raise more "healthy, naturally raised animals for consumption".

I also wonder about the chickens that you raise for the eggs, are they also all happy, loose and free ranging hens? How do you think they feel about knowing that their eggs are going to get cracked open and people are going to eat them instead of their poor undeveloped babies never getting a chance to develop and hatch and do "chicken things"???? How would they like to be out in the "natural world" with having to defend themselves from the predators that are out to get them at every turn??? Okay, they are not a "mammal"....

And for all the article did about bashing Temple Grandin.... she has done alot to improve the handling of the animals going for slaughter. She is quite a tribute to people overcoming difficulties in their own life, and having met her in person, I am humbled by her accomplishments.

Maybe I am such a terrible person to like to eat my beef. I would prefer to have traveling abattoirs that would come to the farm and do the killing in more familiar surroundings; but I also realize that there are some things we can control and some we can't. I also do not promote the sale or use of any mind altering substances.... and if it is medically beneficial then there should be some allowance for it.... but too often it is abused. As is alcohol, so I am not saying that should be excused. But I do not believe that a person that raises their livestock in a fitting manner, with care for their well being, should be criticized because they are not meeting a standard that you think should be met. And although it has been said here, by people that have been in both the dairy and beef industries, that the animals do present different attitudes towards their calves, I am not going to project human emotions and attitudes and feelings onto these animals. It is still instinctive for them to look for a lost calf, to want to try to "raise one from the dead" and to miss that calf when it is taken away.....but give them a little time, and they will no longer feel any pull towards that missing animal. And although there are exceptions to every rule.... most cows will not welcome back a "family member", as a human would, that can think and be able to have reasonable thoughts.

This may be a little out of line, and I am sorry if it offends anyone. I have about had my fill of people telling us how to raise our animals in a "humane" manner, then turn around and see the insanity of how people are acting out their "rage" and frustrations in public today. There is no RESPECT for other human beings, or for their right to own something they have worked for....but we are supposed to have respect for cows "feelings" ???? We are supposed to sit and take the garbage that is being dished out by spoiled brats that have never worked their butts off to have a little peace and security in their lives, because they think that their "ancestors" were wronged???? And now we are supposed to listen to some expert on cow's feelings, when he is not out there doing the day to day work; Sorry. When that person has walked the walk and talked the talk, then I will give credence to their "expert opinion".

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by greggy » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:43 pm

MeggieSaunders wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:53 pm
Hi everyone,

Newbie to CattleToday forum.

The vet helped us put down (and cremated) a calf yesterday because it was sick and blind. Now the mother is wondering around the paddocks mooing and looking for her calf - she started at 2am! She's so determined to find her calf that she's roamed away from the big herd.

When I go out to the pasture the cow will come to me and follow me around. I think she does this because she remembers that I was the one bottle feeding the calf. The cow seems to calm down (lays down and closes her eyes) when I stay with her but as soon as I start walking away begins wandering around and mooing. It's so sad to watch and hear her.

Anyone know how long the mourning period lasts? It's been 16 hours since we took her calf away. I'm stressing out for the cow and I also ask the question because I need my beauty sleep. ;-)

Meggie
Most good ruminant mothers do this for a day or so, even the not so good ones. I would expect at least a night of looking.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Redgully » Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:56 pm

I'm sorry cowgal but that link was the biggest load of rubbish. Every living thing on earth has evolved for millions of years and has evolved traits to do just that. Long term memory of painful situations is a survival trait. Security in a herd situation is a survival trait. Looking after young is a species survival trait. Humans share these survival traits but humans then have an active conscience and an ability to reason far beyond what animals are capable of. I mean many animals eat or kill their own young, is this cruel? Actually it isn't, again it is a survival trait, animals do things different to us.

Don't get me wrong, i hate cruelty and think we should give animals the best life possible, we have come a long way from past practices and still can do more moving forward. But this thought we should portray human emotions and reasoning with animals is simply not being able to deal with it yourself.

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Re: Mourning cow - How long does it last?

Post by Nesikep » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:03 am

Yes, cows have characters, emotions, etc, but there's a whole lot too much anthropomorphisation going on... especially when it comes to "thinking"
While I'm no expert, I've watched a complete course on human behavioral biology many many times because it was fascinating... the frontal cortex, which is most developed in humans, and to a lesser extent in primates is one of the main brain regions that is responsible for "thinking".. and things like delayed gratification.. There are some tests, like you have a piece of wood in one hand, and a treat in the other, but the rule of the game is that if you take the piece of wood, you get 3 treats.. Cows fail at this 100% of the time, and I think most primates do as well.. and so do humans until about 4-5 years old. It's also been found that kids who fail at this the longest end up doing worse in life, because they just can't sacrifice the immediate for the future

I think any of you here know I know my cows very well, and with some exceptions, they're pretty much all pets, but they're still food.. I'll treat them the best I can, and if your dog was made of beef, I'd probably eat your dog before my cow.

As we raise them, it's our job to do the best we can for them, If you want better, more humane slaughter, the first thing that you should do is petition the gov't to make it less of a #$%# pain in the arse to slaughter on-farm
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