Recently, ‘Til The Cows Come Home received a call from a dairy farmer in Casino, NSW that made our hearts sing. Judy, offered to rehome 30 of the bobby calves reared on her property to us. Even better, she’s happy for all of her future bobby calves to find loving homes through our organisation.
But who are these bobby calves and why do they need a new home?
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock defines a bobby calf as “a calf not accompanied by its mother, less than 30 days old, weighing less than 80 kg live weight.”
The dairy industry splits bobby calves into one of two categories: replacement and non-replacement.
Most female bobby calves fall into the first category, destined to replace the older cows when they stop producing enough milk to be commercially viable.
Unwanted bobby calves, comprising mostly males, make up the second category, where the majority of animals are killed within the first week of their lives.
There is wide condemnation of this practice from animal welfare organisations and even from the beef industry. In 2017, the Victorian Farmers Federation Livestock Group president, Leonard Valance, said, “The industry needs to change the way it handles bobby calves.”
Recently, at the Dairy Research Foundation 2019 Symposium, the dairy industry acknowledged the management and treatment of bobby calves is a challenge. However, many farmers say that without a market for the calves, it is not profitable to keep them any longer than five days.
So how many bobby calves are killed in Australia each year? The dairy industry says it’s 400,000 while a 2013 report from Voiceless lists the number of slaughtered bobby calves at 800,000.
Regardless of the exact figure, it is clear that an extraordinary number of animals are routinely taken from their mothers before they are even one week old and slaughtered simply because the dairy industry has no other use for them.. but we do.
At ‘Til The Cows Come Home, we enjoy working with farmers to rescue retired dairy cows and unwanted bobby calves. Our team, trained in Regenerative Rescue https://tilthecowscomehome.org/regenerative-rescue/, use the natural capabilities of the animals to help regenerate the land on which they live. Do you, or anyone you know, have acreage? Are you interested in companion cows for your property or a herd of soil regenerators for your land? Get in touch and help us find enduring and loving homes for these beautiful creatures. Complete this adoption application and one of our dedicated volunteers will be in touch: https://tilthecowscomehome.org/adopt-a-cow/ The suggested donation per calf is $350 which is optional however this amount covers rescue, feed and vet care expenses so that we can continue to rescue.
If you don’t have the space, you can still support our work and help us make this rescue a reality.
-By Genevieve Mater