When Melody arrived at VINE as a calf, the first thing we noticed was that, even though she was extremely shy with people, she interacted with adults cows as if they were peers. Extraordinarily self-possessed, tiny Melody would stand at the hay ring shoulder-to-shoulder with very large cows like Princess, socializing as if she were just another one of the grown-ups!


Melody came to VINE as a discard of the dairy industry after a bout of pneumonia stunted her growth. Called “heifers” by the dairy industry, calves like young Melody are usually considered too potentially profitable to have any chance of freedom. And so, ironically, catching pneumonia was the luckiest thing that could have happened to Melody. Otherwise, as soon as she reached maturity, she would have been immobilized and forcibly impregnated by a farmer reaching his arm into her vagina to position her uterus and inject semen. After giving birth, she would have been allowed to nurse her calf only long enough for her milk to start flowing, after which she would have been milked by machines twice daily until she ran dry, at which point the cycle would start again. For as many as twelve years, she would have suffered this cycle of pregnancy, grief, and mechanized milking—her distended and probably infected udders hanging so low that they nearly brushed the ground—until her body wore out and she would be sent to be slaughtered for low-grade meat.


Instead, Melody frolics with other calves at the sanctuary, kicking up her heels and tearing around the pastures with her tail straight up. Her best friends are Maddox, who is a few months older, and Equinox, who is a few months younger. Of the three, Maddox is the most outgoing, Equinox the most confident, and Melody the most serious. Even as a very young calf, Melody’s way of very seriously assessing her surroundings was striking. Even as she has become more playful, she remains watchful.


Melody will always be small, and still coughs sometimes due to scarring on her lungs, but is otherwise hardy. We’re so glad to have been able to offer her refuge here at VINE and are eager to see how her adult personality evolves.

Click here to learn how to sponsor Melody or another of the dozens of cows who have found permanent refuge at VINE Sanctuary.