Jersey Boys News Final Goodheart Animal Sanctuaries

Our dairy calves' first day outdoors

From the moment they arrived at Goodheart’s Farm Animal Sanctuary last November, when they
were tiny and vulnerable, to the first time they went charging down the drive and out onto grass for
the first time, our rescued jersey calves have been an absolute joy to get to know.

Their early days with us, after we’d collected them from a veal rearing farm, were touch and go.
They were weak, and the weather was cold and wet. Dave, our Sanctuary Manager, built them a
cosy den in the barn with deep litter on the floor. The team made up bottles and fed them every few hours and to help keep them warm, they wore special calf jackets. One calf, Duncan, wore two.

At night they were brought into the house for extra warmth. Slowly they began to recover and
where once Dave could easily carry them in and out in his arms, they soon gained weight and we had to revert to the Sanctuary taxi service.

Dave with the sanctuary taxi

The weather got better, and they got stronger. The team began to relax and believe they would all pull through; even Duncan. However, we still housed them in the warmth and safety of our Barn. They watched the team at work and checked out the sheep next door. Every now and then Dave would have a play session with them; chasing around the central feeder in their pen. They would bounce about, throwing their heads around and kicking their heels out.

Come May our six boys were ready for the great out-doors. Now looking like a herd of small teenage cattle they ventured out and into their field. We all felt very lucky to be there and to witness their joy. They investigated mole hills; tree bark and the spring flowers. They turned the paddock into a race track and charged round and round. Harry and Jet, our rescued pony and horse, came to say hello over the fence. They startled a pheasant who also startled them. Duncan, who still retains some reminders of his poor start in life, including a head tilt, kept up with his mates. He loves being outdoors in the paddock.

Our six boys were originally born to Jersey Dairy Cows. In the UK there are approximately 1.8 million dairy cows. They are bred to produce large quantities of milk and part of this involves having to give birth each year. This expected high milk yield takes a heavy toll on the cows. Health issues, which are painful, from mastitis to lameness (it is estimated that between a quarter and one third of cows on UK dairy farms are lame) plus the distress of early separation, often directly at birth, from their calves can all cause physical and emotional stress. For the calves, being born a male, means there is limited choices for their future. Some are shot at birth, some raised for the veal or beef industry. Viva! has recently released a report on some aspects of the UK dairy industry which depicts shocking and heart-breaking images of the lives of some of the animals who serve this industry, increasing the growing awareness about the plight of these animals.

Which brings us back to our boys. They really do represent the lucky few. Vibrant, mischievous, inquisitive, very heavy when they stand on your foot – they certainly have a strong presence and, like all the rescued animals at our sanctuary, make you smile when they come to greet you. Their welfare and happiness will be a priority for us and we hope their story will help encourage more people to consider some plant-based alternatives in their diet.