There are many posts and videos reporting that a cow hid her calves because she knew farmers would take her away.

But according to this site,

Most cows will hide their newborn for the first couple of days away from the remainder of the herd until they are strong enough to interact with the other members of the herd. They will ‘plant’ them in tufts of long grass or under a shady tree coming back to feed them a drink of milk when necessary.

This indicates that the hiding of calves is a generic response which doesn't have anything to do with them remembering that humans took their last calf away.

Is there any evidence that cows sometimes anticipate humans harming their calves and take steps to prevent that? (like hiding their calves)

  • what does an animal behavior question have to do with vegan and vegetarian lifestyle?
    – jsotola
    Jun 11, 2021 at 0:38
  • 2
    @jsotola I think the OP is likely getting at the mental state (stress and "happiness") of the animals on a cattle ranch. Jun 11, 2021 at 5:41
  • @Daud you are forgetting about animal instinct ... wild animals, such as deer do exactly the same thing with their young
    – jsotola
    Jun 11, 2021 at 5:49
  • @jsotola Yes, wild animals also do that but my question is whether cows do it in anticipation of humans harming their children, or is this an automatic instinct in them
    – Daud
    Jun 11, 2021 at 7:47

1 Answer 1


I have spent considerable time around cattle, including hundreds of bulls and many thousands of steer, cows, and calves.

I can only speak from my own experience, but I have never seen or heard of a cow hiding a calf from ranchers. But I also have only been around other ranchers who, for the most part, treat the cattle very well (and with with respect) until the animals are sent to slaughter. Of course, the slaughter part always ends with the animal being killed, and although there are both more and less "humane" ways to kill an animal, all methods end the animal's life.

I have witnessed ranchers who do not treat the animals well (before slaughter), but I have intentionally never spent much time around them, so I can't comment on the behaviour of the animals in their care. I also cannot comment on what percentage of ranchers treat the animals well while they are on the ranchlands, and what percentage do not.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.