the down side of naming calves

This spring we brought home 5 adorable bottle calves.  They had names the very first day, which I kinda thought might go by the wayside.  Except they didn’t.  We bottle fed them for 6 weeks and got to know their faces and their personalities.  Mo had an underbite.  Moola had the longest eye lashes. Frank, my personal favorite, was pale blonde with a perfect dishy Jersey face. Lou was the beefiest. Tiny, later known as T, was a serious complainer and he liked to suck on the other one’s ears.  He was also Julianna’s favorite.Baby Calves

After a few months Mo and Moola ended up going to live at my dad’s house.  Julianna was okay with it because they weren’t her very favorites.  The other three spent the rest of the summer grazing the pasture at our house.  The girls brought them garden rejects from the house so often that they’d come to the gate when the garage door opened.  And when we went for a walk, they’d follow us hopefully down the fence line.

Now that it’s fall, the pasture is beginning to look lean, and we’re thinking about winter.  The plan all along had been to sell two of our three and keep one.  We also need hay, so when we saw that a friend had hay for sale and wanted a calf, we arranged for a trade.  Since T is Julianna’s favorite, and the big boys are hoping to make some cash from selling Lou, my favorite, Frank, went off to my friend’s house in exchange for a ton of hay.

T (in front) and FrankI stayed inside while they were loading him into the trailer.  Julianna and Em watched sadly. They were glad to still have two calves here for now.  We were all glad he was going to a friend’s house, and John consoled the girls by saying we’d stop by to visit one of these days, and bring him a pumpkin to eat.  But I think we’re all pushing away the thought of next year, when we’re going to have to face the fact that these guys weren’t bought to be pets.


Next time we really shouldn’t name them.


  1. Does this mean that Beef is NOT what’s going to be for supper at your place??? : ) Our children would be the same way…….

  2. You just reminded me why I don’t eat beef–ever.

  3. We had goats when we were kids. My dad and mom told us NOT to get attached. We did. And we cried when they ended up butchered. 🙁 My friend and her husband (a farmer) were given a piglet as a gift at their wedding reception. It was very funny. They were smart; they named him “Wilbie”. I asked her if she meant “Wilbur”. She said they named him Wilbie because some day he will be supper. lol Farming isn’t always “pretty”.

  4. My dad never let us name the cows or pigs. I really hated it at the time and was sure upset with him every year, but I understand now…….it was hard enough without them having names, would’ve been much harder had we named them and become attached.

    • This is our 3rd (4th?) go-round with beef cows and the first time we’ve named them. These are also the first ones we’ve bottle fed and had since they were tiny. I think that also is making it feel harder.

  5. Yes, the only possible names are “Burger” and “Brochette” and possibly “Steak.” We had this problem when we were overseas. Donn, every year in early December, would talk about buying “Sparky the Christmas lamb” who would of course become Christmas dinner, but I would never let him. I am too modern-American to eat something I’ve fed.

  6. I’m a born and raised vegetarian, so yeah, that wouldn’t be happening at our house, but it reminded me of our friends. They bought turkey babies in the spring and named them Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. poor things. lol

  7. We named our last 2 steer “T-Bone” and “Cheeseburger” as constant reminders!

  8. Our landlord’s son keeps cattle for beef in the barn behind us. I call them buy their number tags. I asked hubby if we could keep 128 and 106…he said no he wasn’t paying to feed them LOL…see even if they don’t have “names” you fall for them anyways.

  9. that reminds me of a lady I once knew, her father raised cattle and they would sell some and get some of the meat. they named one Tuffy, and became attached to it, so when it came time to dine on some of their beef from this particular cow, they would say “Im not eatting that, thats Tuffy meat”

  10. This totally cracks me up. When I was a kid, we bought a calf and bottle fed it until it was grown. We named it Wendy (as in Wendy’s hamburgers). My parents were concerned that my youngest sister was going to have a hard time when Wendy was grown and ready to be, ahem, useful. But, instead, she was just fascinated by the whole thing. We ended up naming every calf after that Wendy as well.

  11. Our friends named their pigs Chop 1 and Chop 2. Our kids love that!

  12. When you said you were naming them and bottle feeding them, I wondered how much of a problem that was going to cause.

  13. I’m afraid you would have become attached anyway! It’s just the nature of consistently caring for something. When I was young we had a butcher who would pick up the animal. Then Mom would go pick up the meat all packaged and ready to go. So we never knew when we were eating them and it helped us be a little removed from the process. We also had some that stayed as pets- that helped, too.

  14. My husband grew up on the mission field where they would always name the cow for the event it was going to feed. Their cows got names like district assembly 2010 or pastors and wives retreat 2000. My sister in law currently owns one named butt roast. I’m on the end of thinking that it’s good for kids to know that something has to die for us to live. That’s reality. There is a spiritual lesson there too. Not that the first times and the attachments are easy though.

    Blessings to you.

  15. Kaycee Fisher says:

    And that’s the reason I only buy animals that won’t be eaten. 🙂

  16. Seriously, here in Texas we name ’em…over there is T-Bone, by the water is Rib Eye, over here in the barn is hamburger and down yonder is Roast…;) When you call them by those names you can’t help but remind the kids that little T-bone is going to be in the freezer and then on the grill! Enjoy the experience sister! Blessings, Kyle Su

  17. When I was a kid and we had pigs or cows, my Dad made us name them after the foods they’d become. So the pigs were always named things like pork chop or riblet and the cows had to be called roast or steak or etc. Other kids thought it was nuts, but I don’t remember any tearful goodbyes on butchering day.