×

Warner farm catches flak for fluffy cow video

  • Diego (left) and his mother, Elvira, hang out on a sunny day at Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner. Diego caused quite a stir last week when a video taken shortly after he was born went viral, attracting both positive and negative attention to the farm. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff

  • Diego (left) and his mother Elvira hang out on a sunny day at Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner. Diego caused quite a stir last week when a video taken shortly after he was born went viral, attracting both positive and negative attention to the farm. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Diego (left) and his mother Elvira hang out on a sunny day at Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner. Diego caused quite a stir last week when a video taken shortly after he was born went viral, attracting both positive and negative attention to the farm. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Diego (left) and his mother Elvira hang out on a sunny day at Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner. Diego caused quite a stir last week when a video taken shortly after he was born went viral, attracting both positive and negative attention to the farm. Caitlin Andrews—Monitor staff

  • Newborn calf Diego curls up outside on a sunny day at Yankee Farmer’s Market in Warner. Diego caused quite a stir when a video taken shortly after he was born went viral. Caitlin Andrews / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Yankee Farmer’s Market owner Brian Farmer and his wife wanted to share something cute when they posted a video to their Facebook page last week showing a Scottish Highland calf that was born in a snowstorm.

Who wouldn’t, they figured, love to see a video of a fluffy newborn animal getting warmed up with a blow dryer?

Turns out a fair amount of people didn’t love it.

The video has garnered 12 million views and more than 138,000 shares since Thursday. Some of the global attention has been positive. Farmer named the newborn Diego, after a Spanish family asked if the calf could be named for their 7-year-old son.

But the video also attracted a fair amount of negative attention from animal rights supporters.

“Why are you posting videos of cute baby animals when you’re going to kill them and sell them as food?? There’s something really twisted about that,” wrote Lauren-Klair, from the United Kingdom. Several others, from Hawaii to New Orleans, have offered to adopt the calf to save it from its fate.

Protestors have not only shared their displeasure at seeing a baby animal they believe will soon be slaughtered, but have used Facebook’s starring system to drive down the farm’s reviews. The page has 174 “five-star” ratings and 191 “one-star” ratings as of Tuesday, with only a handful of three- and four-star ratings in between.

It’s a frustrating situation for Farmer, who said he feels he is doing everything he can to give his animals the best life possible and is raising them ethically. His herds, which include buffalo along with the Scottish Highlanders, mostly roam and eat freely in pastures and are raised without antibiotics or hormones. He said several people assumed Diego was taken away from his mother permanently, or was slated to become veal. Both are untrue, he said: Yankee Farmer’s doesn’t produce veal, and Diego, who was born outside in chilly weather, was returned to his mother shortly after he was dried off. Farmer doesn’t slaughter his animals on site, either, as that requires a license from the USDA.

“I’m not sure how you get that much negativity out of a picture of a baby cow,” he said.

Farmer was also concerned with how the protesters are using the review system as a platform for their beliefs about whether animals should be eaten at all, a question he feels goes beyond what his farm stands for and the animal-raising practices they use.

“A large amount of our customer base are basically vegetarians in the sense that they don’t agree with what the food industry does with animals,” he said. “They’re really interested in addressing the health and humanity of it all.”

But Farmer said he has been “humbled” by the support he has seen from his customers and the community at large, who have also taken to Facebook to defend the farm.

“If you’ve ever been there, you know that you can walk right up to the open pastures they keep their animals in, free to roam and graze as they please – no factory farm conditions here. A place deserving praise, not the wholly-undeserved and uneducated insults and hatred being thrown their way from people thousands of miles away who have never set foot there,” Aaron from Warner wrote.

Love it or hate it, Farmer said they’ll continue to post about their animals in an effort to educate the public on how they live.

“Not all food is created equal,” he said. “I can haphazardly grow a tomato in my backyard and it will still be better than anything you can buy in a store. And a lot of these people think they’re acting conscientiously, but many growing practices end up harming the planet. There’s a balance between animals, plants and insects – they’re all a part of the ecology.”

So what’s going to happen to Diego? Turns out he’s the heir to one of the first herds of Scottish Highlanders ever raised in the country: Farmer also owns the Pitcher Mountain Farm in Stoddard, where that breed of cow has been raised for more than five decades. His thick neck, strong body and gentle disposition make him a good candidate for breeding stock, Farmer said.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)