Foster cow steps in to mother orphaned foal

  • Joy has followed sadness after a foal who lost his mother at eight days old has bonded with a cow.

    Orphaned foal Thomas and dairy cow Rusty have formed an unusual bond at their home farm in Gorey, Co. Wexford, following a sad start to Thomas’ young life.

    Thoroughbred breeder and dairy farmer Des Devereux told H&H Thomas was born normally and “everything was perfect and very straightforward” for the first seven to eight days.

    Sadly on the eighth day, the mare haemorrhaged and they lost her very quickly.

    “We had to get to work straight away to find a foster mother,” he said. “We found one straight away and we tried very hard to get it to work, but we knew after two to three days it wasn’t going to. So we kept at it until we found another mare, again he [the foal] was willing, but it just didn’t happen.”

    Des said his son, Charlie, eight, suggested they try the foal on Rusty.

    At this stage, they were desperate to find a solution, so they gave it a try and the pair bonded rapidly.

    “It was very straightforward and they’ve never looked back,” he added. “There haven’t been any digestive issues and the foal is being more than adequately provided for.

    “It wasn’t working the other way [with foster mares], so it was desperate times and desperate measures to keep the horse alive.”

    Des, whose foals have gone on to enjoy National Hunt success with trainers on both sides of the Irish Sea, said he has fortunately never had to try this before.

    “We’ve never lost a mare at this late stage before and we had to thank goodness it has just worked,” he said.

    “It’s really nice the racing public have got behind it [the story].”

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    “The biggest problem is lying in cow pats and he comes up with big brown patches,” he laughed. “As long as he keeps sucking away, that’s what matters! We are just taking each day at a time.”

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