A Friesian cow on a farm in Gorey, Ireland, has impressed her owners after bonding successfully with an orphaned foal, becoming his foster mother.
The foal, named Thomas, had had a normal birth and was doing well during the first seven days of his life. He was orphaned on his eighth day when his mother suffered a severe hemorrhage.
Des Devereux, the farm’s owner, said they’d had to act fast to find a foster mother for the orphaned foal.
“We found one straight away and we tried very hard to get it to work, but we knew after three days it was not going to,” Des told H&H.
“So we kept it until we found another mare, again the foal was willing but it just did not happen.”
After the two failed attempts at fostering the foal, the farmer’s 8-year-old son Charlie suggested that they try one of their dairy cows, Rusty.
“It wasn’t working the other way, so it was desperate times and desperate measures to keep the horse alive,” Des told RTE.
After a few tries, to everyone’s surprise, the pair bonded beautifully.
“It took a few tries, but then it worked,” Charlie told the station.
Observing the pair, it’s clear that the bond hadn’t been forced; there was genuine, natural affection between them.
“It has worked really well. The transition is unbelievable,” said Des. “Within a couple of days, they were going out together.
“It is not a mechanical relationship. You can tell that the cow has a very strong fondness for the foal.”
So far, Thomas has not had any digestive issues in his rearing, and he is thriving.
The couple are the first time such an oddity has occurred on the farm.
“We have never lost a mare at this late stage before and we had to thank goodness it has just worked,” Des told H&H.