A former dairy cow was so saddened by memories of her previous babies being taken away by a farmer that she hid her newborn calf to keep her from being taken, too.
Clarabelle was rescued from a dairy farm in late November by the Australian farm sanctuary Edgar’s Mission. She was hours away from slaughter at the farm, where her milk production was too low to bother keeping her alive. When Clarabelle arrived at the rescue, volunteers discovered she was pregnant.
A week before her due date, volunteers noticed that Clarabelle was acting strange — normally eager to eat, she was staying at a distance and acting wary. After a bit of a search, they discovered that she had secretly given birth and hidden the baby in a nearby patch of tall grass.
Cows are known for their deep maternal instincts. Dr. Holly Cheever documented a story from her early days as a dairy veterinarian where a pregnant cow, knowing that her farmer would take away her baby, gave birth to twins and took only one back to the farmer.
She kept the other hidden away in the pasture until the farmer noticed her reduced milk production, found the baby, and took it away too.
Pam Ahern, the founder of Edgar’s Mission, recounted the story of another rescue cow named Pixie.
“Pixie herself was very young, way too young to have been mated,” Ahern told The Dodo. “[But] Pixie was very, very protective and loving of her baby. Although a first-time mother, and a very young one at that, the maternal instinct was very strong and one we determined never to break.”
Luckily this baby — named Valentine, as she was born on Feb. 14 — is also destined for a better life than most dairy cows and will remain at the sanctuary with her mother.