2009 - Volume #33, Issue #2, Page #21[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Blind Cow Thrives On Nebraska Farm
The cow responds to a simple, "Girl. Come here, Girl," walking across the pasture to Ann's voice.
Girl was born to an overzealous heifer that prodded her calf to stand too soon. When the Lindvalls found the calf, it was making the death bawl, and they suspected she had broken ribs. They didn't expect her to survive, but they put her in a convection-heated hotbox they use to warm calves. Ron milked the heifer and fed the milk to the calf through a tube for a few days; then Ann fed her with a bottle.
Girl's eyes looked fine at first, but then turned white and developed dry socket - probably due to the longer-than-usual period in the hotbox, which the Lindvalls didn't realize at the time.
When summer arrived, they put Girl on a 1-acre pasture. That winter, Ann discovered that by calling Girl's name, she would follow. Ann led her to shelter that first winter and has been leading her with her voice ever since. Girl manages to go through gates without hitting anything, but won't budge on ice and must be led around it.
The Lindvalls never expected that Girl would have calves. But when she was 18 months they needed a place for a bull, which the other bulls didn't like, for a couple of weeks after breeding season. They put him with her in a 7-acre pasture. Nine months later Girl calved. Ann moved the calf near Girl's head and Girl figured it out from there. Girl has had calves every year including a set of twins.
"We watch her for the first two or three days so she doesn't hide the calf and forget it," Ann says. "When she had twins, we put her inside to keep track of them for three or four days. You couldn't ask for a better mom."
The Lindvalls say they haven't made many special accommodations, though they don't put her in the big pasture with the whole herd. She's usually in a smaller pasture with other cows or calves with special, short-term needs, and she's also shared space with a horse.
"She knows where the water is. She manages to find her way," Ann says.
Girl's other senses seem to be very acute. Ann remembers switching from cracked corn to shelled corn and Girl's response to the sound of it going into her feeder. Other than occasionally walking in circles and holding her head a little to the side, it's difficult to tell by Girl's behavior that she's blind.
Most of the time the Lindvalls simply use voice commands, "come" and "whoa."
When she doesn't have a young calf to care for, Ann says Girl likes to lick her, as if Ann were her calf. Girl has never had any serious injuries and is as healthy as other cows her age.
"We just love her," Ann says. "She's pretty special."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ron and Ann Lindvall, 202 8th St., Edgar, Neb. 68935 (ph 402 224-5525).
Click here to download page story appeared in.
Click here to read entire issue
To read the rest of this story, download this issue below or click here to register with your account number.