When dairy farms close down, the fate of the cows is usually sealed. If they can't be relocated to another farm - or if that option is too expensive - they often find themselves in a truck en route to the slaughterhouse. For a while it looked like this is exactly what would happen to a dairy cow named Emma. The farm where she had spent her life producing milk was getting ready to close its doors for good.
Emma shared the same fate as many other cows that are bred for high-volume milk production. The animals can only produce milk when they are pregnant or have recently given birth to a calf. These babies are taken away from the mothers right after they are born and the milk that the mother cows produce is sold to the food industry. This separation of mother cows from their calves is very traumatizing for the animals, and to make matters worse, it doesn't happen just once. Dairy cows go through this process of pregnancy, birth and separation again and again during their milk-producing years.
After years of giving up her babies and having her milk taken for human consumption, it looked like poor Emma was heading to the slaughterhouse so that her meat could be consumed as well.
But as luck would have it, there is a very special organization called the "Kuhrettung Rhein-Berg - Lebenshof für Tiere" that rescues cows. This organization runs an animal shelter where the animals can live out their final years in a safe and humane environment. Before Emma could be sent to the slaughterhouse, this group bought her from the dairy farmer, picked her up and brought her to the the safety of their shelter. But the real happy ending was yet to come:
As Emma was loaded into the strange trailer she had no idea what was going to happen and she became so scared that she started to cry. When they arrived at the shelter, her rescuers led her into the pasture where the other cows were calmly grazing. Emma had spent most of her life in a small stall and it took her a while to get used to the soft grass beneath her hooves. Gradually she got her footing and moved slowly towards her new friends.
The other rescued cows were curious and approached Emma, sniffing around her snout in a friendly way. At this point Emma began to relax as she slowly began to realize that everything was going to be alright.
Pretty soon Emma was running enthusiastically alongside her new friends through the pasture. Like horses, cows are herd animals and enjoy contact with each other. A life imprisoned in stall is hard enough for them, and particularly miserable when they are constantly being separated from their offspring.