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HomeFarming NewsCow becomes Wexford foal’s foster mother
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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Cow becomes Wexford foal’s foster mother

A cow has fostered a foal, whose dam died eight days after the colt’s birth.

Des Devereux, a Gorey, County Wexford-based farmer told RTÉ: “Unfortunately, we lost the mare eight days after Thomas was born. She died of a massive haemorrhage. We were left in a predicament. We tried two foster mares, but the foal wasn’t thriving.”

Des’ eight-year-old son, Charlie, suggested rearing the foal, named Thomas, on one of their cows.

Charlie admitted that while “it took a few tries, it worked”. “I couldn’t believe it,” he added.

“It has worked really well. The transition is unbelievable. Within a couple of days, they were going out together. It’s not a mechanical relationship. You can tell that the cow has a very strong fondness for the foal.”

Rearing foals on goats and cows

Both cow’s and goat’s milk are utilised to feed orphan foals, because of their low lactose content and highly digestible fat contents.

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According to, both are more concentrated than mare’s milk. They have about twice the fat, and half as much lactose (milk sugar). Besides, but both are similar in terms of their protein (about 25-27%) and mineral composition.

Jersey cow becomes filly foal’s foster dam

Last year, we featured an article on a Jersey cow, who became an unlikely foster dam for an orphan filly foal.

Hobo’s dam haemorrhaged after birth and died, which prompted the owners of Miller Quarter Horses to seek a foster mother.

However, this proved to be a difficult task, as explained by the Canadian-based enterprise on its Facebook page.

“We tried two different nurse mares, one from a cousin, one from a friend.” With both mares rejecting Hobo, the owners reverted to feeding foal replacer.

“I figured Hobo needed some company, so I thought she could live with Doris, the milk cow. Next morning, when Doris was milked, she only gave 4 litres, when she would usually give 8-10 litres per milking.”

“Same thing that evening. We then caught Hobo in the act… Doris loves Hobo. Loves her immensely.”

“If Hobo is not in her sight, you will hear Doris bellar for that filly. Weaning time is going to be hard on Doris, the milk cow.” the post concluded.

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