7 Reasons Cows Make the Best Moms

Motherhood is a universal experience that transcends species, and cows are no exception. In fact, these gentle giants exhibit some of the most profound maternal behaviors in the animal kingdom. At Farm Sanctuary, where cows are given the freedom to nurture and bond with their calves, we witness daily the extraordinary lengths to which these mothers go to care for their young. This article, “7 Reasons Cows Make the Best Moms,” delves into the heartwarming and often surprising ways cows demonstrate their maternal instincts. From forming lifelong bonds with their calves to adopting orphans and protecting their herd, cows embody the essence of nurturing. Join us as we explore these seven compelling reasons that make cows exemplary mothers, celebrating the remarkable stories of maternal love and resilience, like that of Liberty cow and her calf Indigo.
Motherhood is a universal experience that transcends species, and cows are no exception. In fact, these gentle giants exhibit some of the most profound maternal behaviors ⁢in the animal kingdom. At Farm Sanctuary, where cows are given ​the freedom to nurture ⁤and bond ‍with their calves, we witness daily the extraordinary lengths to which these ⁢mothers go to care for ⁢their young. This article, “7 Reasons Cows Are the Best Moms,”⁤ delves into the heartwarming and ⁢often surprising ways cows demonstrate their maternal instincts. From forming ⁤lifelong bonds with their calves to adopting orphans and protecting ⁢their herd, cows embody the essence ‌of nurturing. Join us as we explore these seven compelling‌ reasons that‍ make cows exemplary mothers, celebrating the remarkable stories of maternal love and resilience, like ‌that of Liberty cow and her ‍calf Indigo.

Liberty cow and her daughter Indigo cow eat with their heads side by side

Seven Reasons Why Cows Make the Best Moms

When allowed to be together, cows and their calves form strong bonds that can last a lifetime. At Farm Sanctuary, cows have the chance to be the loving nurturers they are.

Did you know that cows aren’t just guardians of their calves but also protect others in their herd and may even take in other calves in need?

Liberty cow is one of the remarkable farm animal moms who inspire us daily at Farm Sanctuary. She was rescued after giving birth at a Los Angeles slaughterhouse. Thankfully, she will spend the rest of her life with her calf Indigo (seen below, running to her mom) by her side.

7 Reasons Cows Make the Best Moms July 2024

You can read more about Liberty and Indigo at the end, but first, let’s celebrate some of the many reasons cows are the world’s best moms!

1. Cows Teach Their Calves

It is not only humans who have culture or the passing of knowledge and behaviors through generations. Culture is present in many species – including cows! Farm animals are far more complex than we often give them credit for. Cows learn by observing others in their herd, including their mothers.

2. Cows Are Fiercely Protective

Mother cows bond with their calves and often cry out for those separated on dairy farms so their milk can be sold. Nearly all cows in one study physically blocked a vehicle approaching their calf. Cows were also more protective of calves with low birth weight, nursing them more frequently.

Liz and her son Cashew were released to Farm Sanctuary by a dairy farmer.

3. Cows Experience Each Other’s Emotions

Empathy is the ability to experience another’s feelings; cows are among the many species that exhibit this trait. Cows “catch” the emotions of others, including their calves, becoming distressed themselves when their calves, family, or friends are upset.

Snickerdoodle cow nuzzles Michael Morgan calf, rescued after falling from a transport truck.

4. Cows Help Their Calves Have Fun

Kids like to play, including calves! The mother-calf relationship is important in ensuring this happiness, as in many other aspects of their emotional and physical well-being. Research has shown that farmed calves who nurse and remain with their moms longer run and play more.

7 Reasons Cows Make the Best Moms July 2024

5. Cows Adopt Orphaned Calves

Cows sometimes take in and care for other calves as their own. At Farm Sanctuary, we’ve often seen the love between chosen families. For example, Jackie cow was grieving her calf’s death when she met the young orphaned Dixon. Together, their hearts have healed.

Dixon (front) and Jackie cow, who chose to become his adoptive mom.

6. Cows Gently Groom Their Calves & Each Other

Cows use their sandpaper-like tongues (think of a cat!) to carefully groom their calves. This helps keep them healthy and clean and is vital to social bonding. Like chimpanzees, cows (and steers) form grooming partnerships with other herd members to care for one another.

7. Cows Form Matriarchal Social Groups

Cows are mothers to their calves but may also be mother figures to others around them. Like orcas, lions, and many other species, cows live in matriarchal groups led by a female. She plays a crucial role in maintaining the relationships and well-being of those in her herd.

All moms deserve a break, especially our rescued farm animal moms like Liberty! Support the care of our rescued animal residents with a one-time gift while we give Liberty cow extra pampering this Mother’s Day by giving her a blowout (brushing)!

Liberty cow

Liberty cow at Farm Sanctuary
  • Rescue date: February 11, 2020
  • Lives at: Farm Sanctuary Los Angeles
  • Her story: Liberty gave birth to Indigo inside a Los Angeles slaughterhouse. Facing certain death herself, she now had to worry about the fate of her newborn calf, too. Who could have predicted that actor Joaquin Phoenix would come to the rescue just one day after winning his Academy Award? Yet, that’s exactly the happy ending that awaited after LA Animal Save confirmed Liberty and Indigo’s release from Manning Beef. Accompanied by Farm Sanctuary’s Gene Baur and filmmaker Shaun Monson, Joaquin carried young Indigo toward a life of forever family. Today, Liberty and Indigo are safe by each other’s side at Farm Sanctuary Los Angeles, and their future could not be brighter. Caring Liberty soon befriended another mom, Jackie cow, who was grieving the loss of her calf. Liberty shows us that there’s no one way to nurture and love.

Give Liberty a Break

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Notice: This content was initially published on FarmSanctuary.org and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Humane Foundation.

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