This is Delbur, the sweet young Jersey steer who has become a beloved pet to the Holzwarth family.
Even as a calf, the family knew Delbur, who’s described as an ‘extremely loud’ and very conversational guy, was different.
‘When my guests leave, he sees them,’ says stay-at-home-mum Shiane Holzwarth. ‘They’ll say: “Bye Delbur” and he’ll moo.
‘It’s the same if someone comes to drop off a package – he moos at the Amazon guy. He’s friendly.’
Delbur, who’s two and a half and yet to be fully grown, was originally bought for beef to feed the family due to a scarcity of meat during the pandemic.
But, luckily for Delbur, their plan for him fell through, with Shiane, who lives on a hobby farm with her husband and four children in Michigan, US, telling Metro.co.uk: ‘I’m his mom, and he’s my buddy.’
‘During Covid,’ Shiane adds, ‘we decided that we were going to become beef farmers, so new got Delbur and another cow.
‘Technically, Delbur’s breed is not really for meat, but at the time meat cows were hard to come by, so got whatever breed you could get.
‘We noticed really fast that he was odd. He was like a puppy.
‘He would moo at me when I’m on the porch, and the other cow didn’t care, he’d just laid in the mud.
‘But Delbur, when we went down to see him, he started running and jumping – the older he got, the more he’d buck and jump around. We were like: “What is his problem?”
‘Our neighbours have cows and all they do is lay there and be fat and sassy. They don’t care.’
According to Shiane, it’s not unheard of for Jersey cows to be a bit on the friendlier side, but she’s never met one like Delbur.
‘Since he was a baby, and he was sick,’ she recalls, ‘all he’s known is me.’
The small farm has also played host to dogs, cats, turkeys – some of which Shiane has butchered herself – ducks and horses.
When the family got the two cows, they were met with a little scepticism.
‘My sister-in-law was like: “You are not going to butcher him” and was trying to be a hardball, saying: “I got him for meat, I’m going to do it. This is what farmers do.”
‘And then on butcher day, my mascara was just running down my face. I was crying.
‘I loaded them up in the trailer and of course the one cow I had to push in, pouring corn and like shoved his butt, but Delbur just walked right in like “Oh, hey, where are we going?”‘
Her husband, naturally noticing her distress in the car, asked Shiane what she wanted him to do. But Shiane tried to stick to her guns.
‘So he keeps driving and says: “Shiane you better to stop crying because once we get to the butcher they’re gonna think you’re a weirdo crying over cow.”
‘But I couldn’t stop crying.
‘So I told my husband he had to go in and talk to the butcher – because it was our first time, so we still had to figure out the ins and outs – and I said you have to go in by yourself.’
When the butcher saw Delbur, he remarked how small he was, and asked if he’d been picked on by the other livestock at the farm.
‘I said: ‘That’s exactly his problem,”‘ Shiane relayed, ‘”he’s too friendly.”
‘When the horses and that other cow wanted to eat, Delbur would just get picked on and stand in the corner away from the food. But if you’d separate them so he could get his own food, then he’s lonely – he’d cry and the whole neighbourhood would hear him.’
After that exchange, her husband unloaded the cows – or so she thought – and they drove the car away.
Before long, Shiane’s husband asks her to get out of the car and check the trailer door was closed properly.
‘I was like: “Are you serious? I’m in Crocs, my feet are going to get muddy.”
‘But he tells me to just hurry up and do it real quick, so I hop out and Delbur goes: “MOO!”
‘Then of course I’m crying again.’
Shiane’s husband told her the butcher said Delbur was just too small, and they needed to fatten him up first.
To that Shiane said: ‘No, this was meant to be. He’s going home with me, and he is not going back to the butcher.
‘He’s going to live out his days as a pet cow, not a beef cow. He’s still out back in the pasture – right now he’s mooing at me.’
Now that the other cow has been butchered (RIP) and the family decided to let go of the horses, Delbur’s been able to get nice and fat. But don’t worry, he’s not lonely – his new herd consists of the farm’s ducks and turkeys.
‘Cows can live between 20 and 30 years,’ says Shiane, ‘so we’re in it for the long haul.’
As he’s grown, Shiane describes Delbur as having got even more puppy-ish.
‘He plays with a ball. A lot of people on his social media say he needs a bigger one, but actually the bigger ones, with the pressure of his head, he pops them really easy.
‘So he needs these tiny little balls, and he gets down on his knees and just smashes that ball into the ground with his head.
‘He follows the kids around the dirtbike track. When we have a campfire in the summer, he stands by the campfire and tries to lick the smoke, and he likes the Graham Crackers from our s’mores.
‘We have a huge pond that he likes to go in with the kids.
‘He’s just easy-peasy. Sometimes I like dressing him up for the holidays – I dressed him up as a ghost for Halloween, and he just doesn’t care.’
She adds: ‘In the summer, I can open up the kitchen window when I’m doing dishes and call: “Delbur”, and he’ll stop what he’s doing, look at me and go: ‘MOO!”
Thanks to Delbur, Shiane is no longer an aspiring beef farmer.
‘I thought I could be tough and be a farmer because I’ve butchered turkeys and all that, but friendly cows are not meat cows,’ she says. ‘They hurt your heart.
‘I don’t think I want to raise any more cows – I’ll end up with a whole herd out there because I’m not going to be able to get rid of them.’
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