FAMOOQ's (Frequently Asked Cow Questions)



Please contact us to discuss possibilities,
requirements and request an application.


Our second rescue cow... Formerly known as #733, now “Marilyn MOOnroe”


Formerly known as #733, now "Marilyn MOOnroe"

Q. Was this cow rescued at auction?
No. With our cow rescues, we are taking advantage of an unlikely and unique opportunity to save lives. A
New England dairy farmer with a small herd (the very same farmer who offered us the chance to save Gideon's life) has agreed to give us (and you) the opportunity to now save each and every senior cow and bull calf that would normally be shipped to slaughter in the upcoming months, including this beautiful older girl, previously #733, now with the name chosen by popular vote by our Facebook supporters: Marilyn MOOnroe.

Q. What are the advantages of going this route rather than rescuing dairy cows from auction?
Unlike animals saved at auction, private purchase from a known entity comes along with the advantage of knowing each animal's family/medical history and its past environment and handling. We can also be sure the calves have received their mother's colostrum* within 48 hours of birth. The risk of sickness and subsequent vet costs are decreased while chance of survival is increased.

*Colostrum is a milky fluid that cows produce the first few days after giving birth, before true milk appears. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and proteins (antibodies) that fight disease-causing agents such as bacteria and viruses.

Q. Why can't the farmer just keep her at the farm until she dies of old age or give her to you free of charge?
Dairy farming is a business. It supports hundreds of families in our state, many of whom are struggling to keep farms that have been in their family for generations. Small farmers work dawn to dusk seven days a week milking twice a day and often supporting themselves with a second job. When a cow stops producing, she is no longer a contributing member of the farmer's herd. She is not producing female calves that would take her place when she dies, nor is she producing milk that the farmer can sell to companies like
Hood and Agri-Mark or use to make artisan cheeses to sell at the markets. She now costs money, rather than making it. As much as most farmers dread saying goodbye to their cows, the $600-$800 per cow (depending upon the animal's size and market price per pound) paid by an individual purchaser at auction or slaughterhouse is that cow's last contribution to the solvency of the farm. The fee we will pay to the farmer is, on average, comparable to what we pay as a purchase price to auction houses, in fees and transportation for equine rescues.

Q. How can a "rescue and sanctuary" like Tomten Farm and Sanctuary rationalize aligning itself with dairy farmers who regularly send their animals to slaughter?
Certainly a fair question which we will attempt to answer. While many of us are at different phases on our journeys, I believe, the entire Tomten community (followers, supporters, volunteers, board members, etc.) wants what is best for animals. Some of us eat meat, some dairy, some both and some neither, but I would like to think (although it may be naive) we have an inherent respect for one another, that none of us support factory farming and all of us would like to do what we can to make the world a better place for animals. I hope this venture will allow us another way to do just that. And while we can't change an industry overnight, or expect everyone to have the same beliefs, perhaps, together–you, me and this New England farmer–will, perhaps be an example of just some of the possibilities that exist if each of us do just a little bit more. Every action makes and impact. Let's make this one together and take this year's cow rescue, Gideon's Gifts Cow Adoption Initiative, further than we ever imagined. We invite you to follow our progress on

Q. How do you choose which cows and calves to save?
Unlike our auction saves, with these bovines, we are not the ones making that difficult decision. Because it is hard to choose and we don't feel right deciding which lives deserve saving, cows will be accepted as the need arises, starting with #733 and some of the bull calves who have started to arrive. This lovely senior girl, after producing gallons and gallons of milk and giving birth to five calves in ten years, is no longer able to become pregnant and thus, no longer to produce milk. How do we give back to this beautiful soul who has spent a lifetime of giving herself to us? She was destined for the slaughterhouse floor. Instead, she has come to Tomten. She has been "dried up" and treated so we will not have to milk her. Which gives us more time to love her and let her just enjoy life.

Q. Will there be more cows coming?
We hope so. As our supporters know, we think long and hard about how what and how many animals we can support, both practically and financially. And with most of the dairy cows in the United States eventually being slaughtered for human consumption, it is impossible to save them all. But that doesn't mean we can't try to save as many as we can. That said, let me be clear: right now, we cannot offer sanctuary to all of these animals, nor can we keep them long-term at Tomten without serious financial support and appropriate future homes. It does mean that together, with your help, we would work side-by-side to give as many as possible the chance of a future; the chance for peace, protection and possibility.

Q. How many will Tomten Farm and Sanctuary be able to save?
. As more animals become available over the course of 2017 (and there are already more bull calves in line) we would accept both the "senior" dairy cows and the bull calves (a total of up to 3 animals at a time) and place them up for adoption. That means that no matter how many bovines are in need there would only, but always - for the entire year - be a total of 4 cows here at Tomten. As soon as one gets adopted out we would then open our doors for the next, therefore keeping the count to 4 (one being Ambassador Gideon who is not available for rehoming and will live his days out here at the farm). We would love to save them all but feel very strongly that we cannot get in over our heads and so the number of cows we save will be directly determined by the number we adopt out to appropriate homes - the more we adopt out, the more we can save. Of course, one lucky girl or boy will get to stay here at TF&S forever enjoying the gift of sanctuary with Ambassador Gideon Moo.

Note: To clarify, this means if worst-case scenario, we somehow don't adopt out any, there will only be three saved, and we will keep them as long as they need. But, if we adopt out three, there will be six saved as three more are pulled to safety and so forth. In my heart I know together we can do more than three, much more and since there may be more than a dozen in need, we just have to do more than that! Just think how amazing it would be if we were able to save every single cow scheduled for slaughter from this farm for one year? No one shipping to auction, no one shipping to slaughter and everyone shipping to happily ever after. It would be nothing short of moo-raculous and a win-win for all involved. And if saving lives wasn't great enough just imagine our ability to raise awareness and set new expectations? So much opportunity.

Q. Why are just the bull calves (males) at risk and not the female calves?
Male calves are by-products of breeding cows, and repeated breeding (and subsequent calvings) is necessary if a cow is to continue producing milk. This is an industry that relies on females. Because the bull calves will never produce milk, they are usually slaughtered within hours or days after birth or destined to spend the few months of their short lives being raised as "veal calves" and are slaughtered for human consumption. (Think veal chops, veal piccata, veal parmesan, osso buco.) The bull calves slaughtered shortly after birth are used to make hot dogs, sausages or lunch meats.

Q. Who eats the adult female cows that are slaughtered when they stop producing milk?
While most consumers think that hamburgers are made with "Angus" beef, much of the commercially sold and fast-food restaurant ground beef served in American is processed from slaughtered dairy cows.




Q. Are you a good candidate to adopt a bull calf or adult retired dairy cow? What you need to know:
First, here's some cow lingo. Male baby calves are called "bull calves" until they are castrated. All of the bull calves saved by Tomten Farm and Sanctuary will either be castrated before they are adopted out or the adopter will sign an adoption contract requiring that the procedure performed before the calf reaches sexual maturity. After castration, these boys are categorized as "steers." If they are castrated and trained to be work animals, they are re-categorized as "oxen." As adults, only males who remain intact are called "bulls." Bulls have a very specific job and are not recommended for small family herds.

Young adult dairy cows are known as "heifers" until they give birth after which adult and senior females are known simply as "cows."

Whichever you choose, applicants must agree to commit to lifetime adoption and care. You must offer appropriate shelter, acreage and fencing. Your "herd" must include at least one companion animal, preferably of the same species, alternatively goats, horses, sheep, etc. As with all adoptable TF&S animals, you must submit an application and will be required to sign a contract.


Did You Know...

The total number of cows and heifers (female bovines) slaughtered at US federally inspected plants in 2015 were 12.5 million head. In addition, 455,000 thousand more were slaughtered in non-federally inspected plants and 91.4 thousand on farms. Total number of calves weighing less than 500 lbs. slaughtered in commercial slaughter plants in the US in 2015 was 453,000 head. No number available for farm slaughter.
Source: Overview of the US Cattle Industry (June 24 2016) USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service.

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