Milkshake follows Beth DeCaprio, executive director of the Grace Foundation, around the yard, as the dogs do. She runs around with the dogs. She hangs out in the house and has even tried to get a ride in the backseat of DeCaprio’s car—just like the dogs. However, Milkshake isn’t a dog. She’s a cow.
Milkshake is either in the middle of an identity crisis or has simply found solace in the only creatures that have treated her well.
The 1,200-pound cow was rescued by The Grace Foundation, a nonprofit organization based out of El Dorado Hills, California that is dedicated to the care, protection and healing of children and neglected and abused animals. According to The Grace Foundation, Milkshake spent the majority of her life with an abusive owner—one who kept her in a 10-by-10-foot pen from the time she was 2 weeks old until she was rescued.
As a result of years of abuse followed by her rescue, Milkshake has grown attached not only to the dogs at her new home, but also to DeCaprio. Even though her rescue occurred more than six years ago, she still gets separation anxiety whenever DeCaprio is away from the property (studies have concluded that cows have excellent memories). The Foundation has brought in another cow to keep Milkshake company, as cows are very social animals.
It’s wonderful that Milkshake’s story has a happy ending. However, she’s not the only cow who needed rescuing. There are several that still need people to fight for their rescue, to save them from slaughterhouses after their milk has gone dry or the farmer simply cannot afford to keep them anymore.
Organizations like The Cow Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary, Lakshmi Cow Sanctuary, Catskill Animal Sanctuary and others rescue and rehome abused cows like Milkshake. The International Society For Cow Protection also offers opportunities to adopt a cow.
It’s heartwarming when these efforts are met with success. Some cows were reported to have even jumped for joy.
Adopting a cow is a generous gesture and one of the above organizations can help connect you with a cow in need. However, before signing on, it’s important to understand the commitment. Here are six things Catskill Animal Sanctuary recommends thinking through before you adopt:
1. Having a cow is a long-term commitment.
They typically live 18 to 22 years. Be sure you have the time for such a commitment, and have a substitute caretaker ready to take over during vacations and illnesses.
2. Cows need attention.
They love to be groomed, scratched and petted. They’ll probably lick you in return. (No wonder Milkshake bonded with the dogs—they’re very similar!)
3. Be aware of their size.
Although cows are gentle, they may not realize their weight or that you can’t play the way their cow friends play, which could result in injury to you. You’ll also need to ensure your farm has enough room to house a cow.
4. Research veterinarians in your area who treat cows.
Locate a large-animal veterinarian in your area before bringing a cow to your farm. Although you should be performing routine health checks on the cow every two to three weeks and might even learn to administer your own vaccinations, you need to know who you can contact in the case of a health emergency.
5. Know cows’ food and water needs.
Cows drink up to 20 gallons of water per day, more during summer. The holding container must be large and cleaned regularly. Keep pastures free of toxic weeds, and locate a supplier for hay if you’re not growing your own. Salt blocks should also be available to them.
6. Evaluate your space.
Cows’ enclosure must be no less than 80 square feet for each cow. Their bedding should consist of clean, dry bedding, with extra bedding required in winter. Cows also need at least one acre of hazard-free pasture each; two acres is ideal. Fencing of 8 to 10 feet between each post and 4 feet in height is necessary.
For more tips on caring for cows, visit the Catskill Animal Sanctuary’s Cow Fact Sheet.
Have you adopted a rescued cow or rescued one yourself? Tell us your advice for becoming an adoptive farm animal parent in the comments below.
Get more cow-keeping info from HobbyFarms.com:
- Milk Cows Once a Day
- Keep Cows Cool in Hot Weather
- How to Milk a Cow
- 7 Heritage Cattle Breeds to Raise with Your Children
- 6 Ways to Prepare Yourself and Your Cows for Calving