On a farm, well-intentioned bystanders can do more harm than good.
The calf huddled in the tall grass near the fence line, helpless and all alone. That is, until a concerned passer-by rushed to the rescue. She snuck into the pasture and muscled an 80-lb. newborn Charolais out of the pasture and into the back of her Lexus SUV. Then she drove it back to her garage, where she attempted to nurse it with formula and a turkey baster.
Only after she brought the rapidly weakening calf to the veterinarian did she learn that her "rescue" was an ear-tagged member of the herd at the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Farm Laboratories. Its mama hadn’t abandoned the newborn – she just stashed it under cover while she grazed nearby.
"That lady had the best intentions in the world, but she didn’t have a clue about animal behavior," says Tim Redd, director of MTSU’s farm laboratory, who still keeps a photo of the cow, named Abby by the students who spent weeks bottle-feeding her back to health after her brief abduction in March 2006.