Big hearted farmer won't give up on courageous calf

JuJube is a beautiful little calf who has had a very rough start in life. He was born on a warm day in May on a wonderful farm in Ontario, Canada. But JuJube has had serious difficulty walking since the first few days of his life. He seemed to do alright at first, getting to his feet and nursing well. His mother, Bernise was dedicated and caring, doing all of the things a good mother cow should do for her newborn baby. But despite this, JuJube began to show great pain when he walked. A calf who cannot stand, cannot nurse and he would starve to death without help. He also could not follow the herd and he would be left alone as they moved through the meadow to graze on fresh grass. Fortunately for JuJube, the farm where he lives is not an ordinary farm. It’s a family run operation where the animals are more like pets than investments. The cows have a vast expanse of meadow so they can wander freely and graze on lush, green grass. They drink from ponds full of fresh water and they have forested areas for shade. They even have a bull who watches over them protectively. It's a life that is as close as possible to what nature intended for these gentle creatures. It is also a farm that is owned by two very compassionate farmers who place herd health above profit. Bernise has been a wonderful cow and she has a beautiful disposition. She trusts the farmers completely and she lets them handle her baby without complaint, as if she understands that they mean him no harm. Her trust in them is touching. Dave and his wife, Catherine want to do the best they can for JuJube and Bernise. Each morning, JuJube needs help getting to his feet and he needs a giant bottle of milk to help him build his strength. They watch to see that he is also able to nurse on Bernise. They keep a close eye on his pain and they have had the veterinarian out to the farm regularly to help treat JuJube. Initially, they he was treated for white muscle disease, a selenium deficiency that is common in some herds. They gave JuJube supplements, vitamins, anti-inflammatories, and some pain relievers. They also gave him antibiotics to treat the infection in his joints. JuJube needed a lot of help keeping clean. Spending a lot of time lying down, he was more difficult for Bernise to groom. A soiled calf is more likely to have issues with parasites and infections so JuJube is given a sponge bath every morning to help him avoid complications. JuJube and Bernise both tolerate this very well. When JuJube’s pain started getting worse again, Dave decided it was time to get the veterinarian out to reevaluate JuJube's condition. His legs had taken a turn for the worst. Dr. Greg Aitken from Peterborough Veterinary Services came straight out and gave JuJube a thorough examination. Dr. Aitken had seen the file and had spoken to the first vet who had treated JuJube. He confirmed that the infection in the calf's legs was worsening. Veterinarians have a very difficult job, and for large animal vets, this is especially true. They work in a world where costs must be carefully considered and advice must be given with this in mind. Advocating for the expensive approach is not always the most ethical or fair thing to do when a farmer needs to balance his budget and feed their family. Decisions on a farm must often be made with their heads instead of their hearts. Dr. Aitken first needed to be clear about JuJube's questionable prognosis and the inevitable cost of trying to help him. But he knows Dave and Catherine are extremely compassionate and when he heard the decision from them that they wanted to keep trying, he gently steered the conversation towards what could be done for the deserving little calf. JuJube was putting in the effort and so was Bernise. He had showed some signs of improvement and he had always been eager to nurse. A healthy appetite and a strong will to live have impressed JuJube’s owners, as well as Dr. Aitken. They could not help but admire the little calf's courage and determination. The first thing the vet wanted to try was a stronger antibiotic for eight more days. JuJube would need continued care for long enough to know if this worked but Bernise and JuJube deserved this much. JuJube is fighting and Dave is doing all that he can too. Farming can be a world full of tough decisions and unfortunate choices, but it's a beautiful thing to see that there are farmers like Dave and Catherine who will go the extra mile for their animals. JuJube will have a good chance at life. He has a dedicated mother and farmers with very big hearts.

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