The Calf’s Share

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The first time I heard about the “calf’s share was about one and a half months ago, in May 2014, here at Mayapur Goshala from Dr. SriKala and Dr. SriKumar – two Veterinary doctors from Kerala, who serve at ISKCON Belguam. By hearing I mean understanding. I had never really thought about whether the calves were getting enough milk even though visiting the goshala a few times before. From May 2014 I became a daily morning visitor and a member of “Krishna’s Happy Cows”, a small group of devotees who dedicate part of their daily activities to the Goshala. Prior to this I had noticed that there were cows and bulls in the goshalas “back area” who seemed neglected on the Gopastami  celebration day when all the cows were fed well by a huge number of festive devotees, yet the back section citizens were hardly fed much so I directed devotees to the back to feed these cows and bulls who looked hungry and emaciated. This was another issue that needed urgent addressing and is somewhat related to the calf’s share.

The title of this essay sums up what we as devotees forget about when we take milk for ourselves and our own children who must get milk for good health. I must however state that I am not a vegan, yes, we do need milk but at the same time, not at the expense of depriving the calf of his or her share. Unfortunately at the Mayapur Goshala and many others, even more so with milk suppliers, calves are denied their full share because milk is in so much demand. A lactating cow produces excess milk and that is firstly the Deities share, then it may be distributed accordingly.

Milk is produced out of motherly love. The milk flows when the calf comes to the mother and starts drinking. This is called the “let down”. In most cases a lactating cow is milked twice within a 12 hour span, once in the early morning and once in the evening. During this time the udders become full of milk and pressure. Any human mother with a child understands that there is considerable pain in the breast when filled with milk and not released.  Compare this to a full bladder that has to be held for 1hour. In cows it is also a cause of a painful condition called mastitis. In humans, cases are there where the breast has to be punctured in many places to release milk due to untimely release. Modern lifestyles often separate the mother from the child, and that is why a device called a breast pump was invented to release excess milk, such things did not exist before when people had more time to feed their babies and before baby formula was invented.

It became quite clear from the physical appearance of the calves that they were deprived of nutrition. This was picked up immediately by the visiting Veterinarians mentioned earlier in this article. Thus they introduced a system of one time milking and then allowing the calves a day’s full association with their mothers. After facing initial resistance due to the immediate drop in milk supply and fears that the calves would be adversely affected, the program produced fantastic results in just one month the calves’ weight increased, and their coats became shiny! Initially there was some shock to the calves system – they were suddenly getting more milk after a long deprivation but this was successfully treated under guidance of Dr. SriKumar and Dr. SriKala using homeopathic medicines and even coconut water in some cases. The Vets have years of experience treating thousands of cows and hundreds of elephants using homeopathy and naturopathy, with great success.

Many other positive changes took place in the last months. This was achieved because a few devotees took the time to implement those necessary positive changes, we hope that many more devotees come forward and serve at the Mayapur Goshala. The quality of milk becomes better when it flows out of love and care and that too affects those who drink it. In any case we want to offer the milk that is produced with more love and care to our dear Lord Krishna and He can never be happy if His dear cows, calves and bulls are unhappy. We, as devotees, should think more about this topic and see wherefrom and how the milk, which we drink daily comes. We should also teach our children, otherwise it is a bit impersonal is it not? Take the milk and forget the source? I acknowledge that in my many years as a neophyte, it is much easier to exploit others than to serve them in the true sense of the word.

In following articles we will write more about this and on the topic of what real cow protection means.

Srimad-Bhagavatam 6.18.52 Purport:

“If one is trained to honor and worship the cows and brahmanas, he is actually civilized. The worship of the Supreme Lord is recommended, and the Lord is very fond of the cows and brahmanas (namo brahmanya-devaya go-brahmana-hitaya ca). In other words, a civilization in which there is no respect for the cows and brahmanas is condemned. One cannot become spiritually advanced without acquiring the brahminical qualifications and giving protection to cows. Cow protection insures sufficient food prepared with milk, which is needed for an advanced civilization. One should not pollute civilization by eating the flesh of cows. A civilization must do something progressive, and then it is an Aryan civilization. Instead of killing the cow to eat flesh, civilized men must prepare various milk products that will enhance the condition of society. If one follows the brahminical culture, he will become competent in Krsna consciousness.”