We live opposite a big dairy farm with an open field right in front of our house where a smallish herd of cows would graze every summer. The farmer built a big new barn last year and to our dissapointment there have been no cows on the pasture this year. It used to be fun watching them and catching their attention. The whole herd would stop to watch our son kick his soccer ball about the lawn - you could almost hear them cheer for each goal!
I'm obviously of the non-farming sentimental type - but why do the calves get seperated from their mothers? And would it not be "nicer" for them to be kept together instead of living in their individual little pens? I gather it has to do with reduced milk yield and perhaps quality. In this coldish climate you don't see a whole lot of grazing cows in the fields. Mind you, I have seem some seriously hairy ones out in the winter even, in Quebec. But occasionly you can see happy families of mothers and calves - no daddies I suppose, and to the romantic non-farmer that is a cheerful sight.
The calves are fine. The little hutches are built to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. Bovines are quite independent early on - very young calves will nibble at grass if given the opportunity. Taking the calves away from the cows does keep the milk production at a higher level than if the calf were left on its mother, and that is the whole point of dairying. The calves on our farm receive whole fresh milk, but it comes from a large bottle and then a bucket rather than the cow. Everyone wins.