Picking a baby name is not always the easiest thing to do. Some people can get hung up on it for days, if not weeks sometimes. Then there are those names that you just know you want to use. Something cute, something catchy, maybe even something funny. If you haven’t caught on yet, I’m not talking about naming little humans. I’m talking about naming calves.
Now some farms name their calves and cows, some farms don’t. Just because someone doesn’t name their calves doesn’t mean that animal is not getting good quality care. It’s not a big farm/ small farm thing. It just depends on personal preference. For instance my family milks right around 115 cows. They don’t all have names. Maybe a quarter of the animals have names. Part of these animals have names because they are registered with a breed association. Part of these animals have just acquired names for one reason or another as they went about their little cow ways. When I was in college I had to complete an internship to receive my degree. I worked on a dairy farm that milked 550 cows. They ALL had names. Yes, 550 names for the cows plus names for all the calves and heifers (teenage cows). I still remember names of the ones who were my favorites and the ones who were trouble makers.
If all of our calves don’t have names you may be wondering how we tell them apart. When every heifer calf is born she receives a number. This is how she is identified by us in the barn and how she is recognized in our record keeping system on the computer. All the babies get an ear tag with their number on it. Not only does the tag have their number but also their moms number, their dads name and their birthday. Calves are tagged within the first day or two of being born (as long as yours truly isn’t slacking). If some of you are worried, it’s no different than getting your ears pierced.
Now that I’ve hopefully not bored you with a “technical” paragraph… on to our cows who have gotten names. Part of our herd is registered with the Holstein Association. This means their ancestry can be traced back many generations thru the Holstein herd book. We pick names in a wide variety of ways. Most cow families are centered around a letter of the alphabet. For example you can have an “A” family where every name starts with an A. We’ve also gotten on rhyming kicks before that can get interesting to say the least. Fancy had Nancy, Freckles had Speckles (who was not spotted by the way) then Speckles had Splatter, which I personally think is one of the cooler names we currently have.
Occasionally you encounter a very prolific cow family. Freckles, from the paragraph above, had many daughters who have also have had many daughters. You can only do so many names that start with “F” before they start getting a little crazy. I can introduce you to a heifer names Francesca if you would like. I don’t know about you, I do not know too many cows named Francesca.
Then there are the poor calves who fall victim to my children naming them. Most recently we have “Bubbles” and of course “Mommy Bubbles”, she was one of those cows who acquired a name on long the way. They’ve also gotten on color kicks before. Greeny, Orangey, and Whitey Whitey. Now Whitey Whitey fell in to some controversy because Emma wanted to name her Nutmeg and Taylor stuck to his guns with Whitey Whitey. Then there was the infamous “Booger”, some of you may remember her story if you have been friends with me on Facebook. She was born almost 6 weeks early.
So there you have it. Some cows have names. Some cows don’t have names. All farmers take the best care possible of their cows regardless of if they have a name or not. And sometimes it’s a little fun to play the name game!