Ruminating with RealAg — Ep. 3: The Cow/Calf Bond, Orphan Calves & the Dangers of Bottle Fed Bulls


calfAs evolution should dictate, there are substantial benefits to social behaviour in animals, provided that behaviour increases their fitness (or likelihood to reproduce). We see unique social behaviour in many species, including ourselves and our bovine counterparts.

In cattle, social behaviours range from grooming to bonding, and witnessed accounts of cows protecting their young and their herd-mates are fairly commonplace. But these herd instincts can be tough to deal with as a producer, and even harder to understand. How does a cow know her calf? When is bottle-rearing okay; when does it become dangerous?

Related: A How-To Guide For Two-Stage Weaning

With calving season very much upon us, I took this conversation to Joe Stookey, professor of animal behaviour at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. In this podcast, we discuss some of these behaviours as they relate to calving, to uncover how cow/calf bonds form, orphaned calves and why you must never hand-rear a bull calf.

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