In Joubertina, located on the eastern cape of South Africa, the SPCA Assisi Humansdrop, came to the aid of a baby calf on Friday. Inspector Benjamin received a complaint about a cow with a “wooden device” tied to her face. When the inspector arrived at the field, he was shocked. Wooden logs had nails facing outward from the mouth of the calf.
Inspector Benjamin tried to remove the contraption from the calf, but was unable and therefore drove into the town where he could locate the owner of the calf. After searching for more than 40 minutes, the owner was located:
“What is that thing for?,” the inspector asked.
The owner told the inspector his calf had grown up, however it wouldn’t stop nursing from his mother. He devised the contraption so whenever the calf would try to nurse from his mother, the nails would stick the mother in her belly and she would kick the baby away.
According to the Atlantic, on most farms, calves are weaned from their mother when they’re about six months old. The little ones are introduced to a new diet, a new environment, and they have to learn new rules of social organization with their fellow calves. As weaning is necessary on cattle farms because the mothers are quickly re-bred, and if a mother is still nursing her previous calf while gestating a new one, energy is taken away from the growing calf within the mother cow’s body.
No doubt there is significant stress when separating a mother cow from her calf, some beef farms have been taking a more humane approach. Just one of the many alternative approaches is “fenceline weaning”—also called “nose to nose weaning”—because it seems more humane than traditional. Mothers and their calves briefly live on opposite sides of a slatted metal gate once separated. The mothers are led into the pastures everyday, but allowed to return to the barn area to check on their babies. Every day they can touch, smell and call to each other, but the baby can not reach to nurse. After ten days, the mother comes back to the barn less and less to check on her baby – and when the calves no longer call out for their mothers and are eating well, they are moved on to new pastures.
Weaning rings are a sad reality of both dairy and beef farming, but humane and compassionate treatment should never be condoned. Even a nylon calf weaner, (costing $2.00 each) is durable and easy to apply. It can be left on for a few days and then removed. No calf should have to walk around with a log attached to his face.
Animal advocates expressed their outrage concerning the farmer after he was just issued a warning and ordered to remove the device. According to Inspector Benjamin, the calf could not even graze. Many of the comments echoed these feelings:
Kerry: “The scary thing is, it’s a crude version of a device that is commonly used by farmers worldwide, anyone know that??? My question is why is everyone throwing a fit about this, but quite happy to drink the milk, eat the meat etc. from sources that practice the same barbaric methods???? Because we don’t see it, it comes beautifully packaged on our supermarkets shelves!!!”
Follow the conversation on Facebook here. What do you think?
(Photo of baby calf via SPCA Assisi Humansdrop)
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