Cow Therapy Program
At Discovery Ranch South, our feeder calf program offers a unique and rewarding opportunity for your teenager to develop empathy, responsibility, and love. The calves offered for adoption have been orphaned, as dairy farmers take them from their mothers to allow for milk production for the dairy industry. Without our students' care and support, these vulnerable calves would not survive.
Adoption Opportunity for Orphaned Calves
The calves offered for adoption have been orphaned. Dairy farmers take calves from their mothers. This allows the mother to produce milk for the dairy industry. The calves are usually around a day old. Without our students' care and support, the calves will die.
This dependency helps create a bond between the calf and its caretaker. The calves bond right away to their new caregiver. Calves must be fed a milk replacement twice a day. Caring for calves helps teenagers to think outside of themselves.
Most teens care for more than one calf while they are at the ranch. The first calf will be raised until it is four months old, then the calf will transition to another local ranch. Then teens begin the process again with a new calf.
This therapy has been especially effective for teenagers who are adopted. Adoption issues are often brought to light as teens care for their calves.
Developing Love Through Service
The calf program has helped many teenagers to learn how to express love. Some of our students have expressed their innate desire to help the calves survive and thrive. The experience helps young people develop responsibility. After all, they must care for their calves no matter the weather, even on days they do not feel like doing it.
Overcoming Self-Centered Attitudes
Many teens who come to the ranch relate better to animals than to people. The experience of taking care of a calf is a model of relationships. Therapists use this model to help teenagers understand human relationships.
Your teen will also learn about hard work. Helping their calf survive and thrive daily helps to develop responsibility. Your child will learn about sacrifice and service. They will develop empathy. As they become more empathetic, selfish and self-centered habits and attitudes will decrease.
If their calf thrives, then your teen will feel a sense of accomplishment. They will develop the ability to put someone else's needs before their own. Sometimes, even when given the best care, calves die. If your teenager's calf dies, then they will learn about loss. They will experience grief and loss in a structured and safe environment.
Unlike some pets, such as dogs, calves do not form a lifelong bond. Calves move from complete dependence to independence in a short time. When calves are four months old, then they are old enough to move on to local ranches. If your teen's calf reaches this age, then they will experience a different kind of loss.
Learning to let go of a calf that they love parallels the experience of parents. Your teen's therapist and support staff will help them to process the experience of letting go. This experience will help your teenager to develop empathy for their own parents.