Cows/Cattle/mini jersey

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Question
We have what im told is a mini jersey cow. Her companion for the past few years was a mini horse, but he died during this past winter. She now has some mini and standard donkeys as companions.
Every once in a while, she has a new chunk missing out of her ear. Im extremely worried about her, and wondering, could these donkeys be biting chunks of her ear off?

Answer
Hello Brittany,

I wouldn't doubt it at all.  I've no idea how many donkeys you have in your pasture, but if there are at least two (and it sounds like you do have a few more than two...), then they will gang up on that lone cow and harass her to the point that yes, they most likely may have bitten a chunk or two out of her ears a time or two.  Those donkeys, like horses, have sharp front teeth that can take a chunk out of any flesh that comes near if they have a mind to bite off that flesh that comes in reach of their mouths.  

I've noticed with horses (donkeys too) that are in a group which outnumber or of the same herd size as other animals of a different species--be they llamas, cattle, etc--that they share an enclosure with will usually, if not often, make any and every opportunity to make their presence known and let those non-horsey animals know that they are dominant, no ifs, ands or buts.  I would not be surprised if this very thing is happening to that cow of yours.  

If you're that worried (and I most certainly would be too!!) then I'd go ahead and separate her from those donkeys to prevent further, possibly more serious injuries occurring to her.  A cow can and will do fine by herself, and it really won't hurt her to have her separate from those donkeys as often as possible.  Quite frankly she'll probably thank you for it! :)

Just as an aside: That's what's so funny about horses and donkeys.  They'll be a real pain in the rear if there are a lot of them and one or a few of another type of animal in the same corral (like horses/donkeys versus cows or sheep or llamas), doing everything they can to stir up trouble in that herd and create more harm to those other animals than what you thought might happen.  For instance, a group of horses will literally hog an entire bale of hay so much so that one or two cattle can hardly get a bite to eat from it, no matter if there's plenty to go around.  But when these same horses or donkeys are outnumbered (like one or two horses or donkeys versus a bit larger number of cows, llamas or sheep), they'll mind their own with those animals and cause little to no problems in that herd. Why, even one horse living with 50 cows can be accepted as a part of that herd and would even consider themselves as a cow if they've been in there long enough!  

So, best to separate her, and let her heal up her physical and probably psychological wounds from being harassed and harried constantly by these long-eared beasts of burden. ;)

Good luck and take care. :)

-Karin

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Karin L

Expertise

Forage-Beef Extension Specialist. Knowledge in almost everything to do with beef and dairy cattle. Strong points include forage production, pasture and rangeland management, grazing management, breeding/calving/weaning, cattle genetics, breeds, feeding and nutrition, starting-up, and most physiological questions. I AM NOT A BOVINE VETERINARIAN; so please any questions that concern serious health of your cattle must be taken to your local large animal veterinarian.

Experience

Part of a farm family that bought, raised, and sold stocker/backgrounder steers; assisted with health management, handling, feeding, pasture management, and forage production. Also worked at local mixed-practice veterinary clinic. Experience with cattle included breeding soundness exams on bulls, castration, fixing prolapses, preg-checking, C-sections, calf pulling, vaccinations, etc. Worked at a local farm and ranch supply store selling medications and feed for livestock. Research assistant for the University of Alberta with range health assessments, and helping with various rangeland research projects. Always learning and gaining more experience as time goes on.

Publications
Alberta Farm Express Agri-News and Call of the Land (Alberta Agriculture)

Education/Credentials
BSc in Agriculture (Animal Science Major) @ University of Alberta, June 2015 graduate, but started studies in 2005. An Sci degree allowed me to specialize and gain significant knowledge in beef & dairy cattle production,animal behaviour and reproduction, ruminant nutrition, forage production/management, rangeland and pasture management & ecology, and plant identification.

Past/Present Clients
Various eef and forage producers in Alberta, CAN

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