Rescue Story

Lenny and Freddie: Two Calves Rescued From the Dairy Industry Find Friendship at Farm Sanctuary

Freddie Calf gives Lenny Calf a kiss at Farm Sanctuary

Rescue Story

Lenny and Freddie: Two Calves Rescued From the Dairy Industry Find Friendship at Farm Sanctuary

Before coming to Farm Sanctuary, Freddie and Lenny led parallel lives.

The Jersey and Ayrshire calves were born around the same time—each at separate dairy farms in New York State. Since male cows can’t make milk, their farmers didn’t want them. Sadly, most “dairy boys” are either culled immediately, or raised and slaughtered for veal or cheap beef.

Luckily, Freddie and Lenny’s rescuers helped them find Sanctuary—and here, they found each other. Now, these new friends will live out their natural lives in peace.

We learned about Freddie, the Jersey, first. He came from a small Greenwich, NY dairy farm that is operated on rented space. This business arrangement wound up saving Freddie’s life.

Freddie calf at Farm Sanctuary.



  • Freddie comes to Farm Sanctuary

  • We bring Lenny to our New York shelter

  • The boys move in together

The landowner took pity on Freddie as soon as she learned about the boy’s impending fate. She consulted with her tenant, who agreed to spare the little calf from slaughter. Still, Freddie’s new guardian knew she couldn’t keep the calf long-term. With help from an acquaintance who helped her search for a new home for Freddie, they discovered Farm Sanctuary.

Soon after, Lenny appeared on our radar.

Lenny calf at Farm Sanctuary.


He, too, was deemed “useless” by the dairy industry. In fact, his farmers tried to prevent his birth from ever happening—opting to inseminate their cows with semen engineered to produce female offspring. The process clearly didn’t work.

Through a connection with the dairy’s veterinarian, the farmers found a local rescuer who agreed to take him in. The family loved Lenny, but as he was the only calf there, they came to realize that he needed more than what they could provide. Lenny deserved to be around other cows, and to have access to the lifelong care he would need.

Sadly, Lenny had been “banded” as a form of castration. This is a painful and controversial practice, in which a rubber band—tied around a calf’s testes and scrotum—constricts blood flow to these sensitive organs until they wither and fall off. At Sanctuary, we only recommend routine neutering under anesthesia and veterinary care. It’s a far less painful and invasive way to prevent breeding and aggression.

He also had diarrhea, and a diminished appetite—both of which required prompt attention. The guardians asked if we could take on his care, and we initiated plans to bring him to our Sanctuary in Watkins Glen. This meant good news for Freddie, too: as we were already working on his adoption, we agreed it would benefit each calf to have a friend. We welcomed both boys at the end of July—just one day apart.

Since male calves can't make milk, hundreds of thousands born into the dairy industry are raised for veal

Freddy and Lenny with a chicken at Farm Sanctuary

Before they could meet, we placed the calves on quarantine while screening for any potential health issues. Lenny was the sicker of the two; with proper diet and medication, however, his diarrhea and appetite issues resolved and we were able to introduce these new friends.

Others aren’t as lucky.

Despite popular myth, cows do not automatically produce milk. Like humans and other mammals, they must be pregnant or nursing their young to lactate. This milk—as with human breast milk—is specifically formulated to meet their babies’ developmental needs. But from a business perspective, calves are only needed to kickstart their mothers’ milk flow—or, in the case of females, to replace their mothers once their milk production declines. Allowing calves to drink this milk prevents farmers from selling, and profiting, as much.

While Freddie and Lenny likely got their colostrum—a type of milk produced directly after birth that’s designed to help calves build a healthy immune system—most dairy calves are not allowed ample time to nurse and bond with their moms before being separated from her. Without it, these calves are essentially defenseless. Though Jerseys can weigh around 60 pounds at birth—and Ayrshires average a bit higher, at around 70 pounds—these calves are very fragile and susceptible to illness. Many of our rescued calves arrive with respiratory or digestive diseases that could have easily been prevented had they received proper nourishment.

In addition, it would cost farms too much—and take up too much space—to feed and shelter all these offspring in the long-term. So, farmers get rid of the “byproducts”: the calves like Freddie and Lenny who are born into the dairy industry, yet can’t contribute to its production.

At Sanctuary, these boys have the rest of their lives ahead of them.

Despite popular myth, cows do not automatically produce milk

As new ambassadors for their species, these boys can help save other lives, too. Some farmers, upon realizing that their cows are individuals, too, are transitioning from dairy to plant-based agriculture. In this way, they are ceasing their exploitation of cows by growing plant-based alternatives—such as soy and oats—to counter cow’s milk and help protect these beings instead.

But it’s not just farmers who can change the tide: everyone can help to decrease a demand for dairy products—and for a system that nearly killed these two calves. It’s as easy as replacing dairy products in favor of compassionate alternatives. As a bonus, this will also help curtail veal production—which many people agree is unnecessarily cruel—since the dairy production directly fuels veal by supplying it with cows who are unsuitable for milk.

Freddie and Lenny standing in grass at Farm Sanctuary

Soon, the boys will head to their forever home: Peacefield, a Florida-based Sanctuary who helped us rescue more than 100 animals from a backyard butcher. They are also a member of our Farm Animal Adoption Network: a nationwide collective that helps us secure more loving, forever homes for farm animals in need than one Sanctuary could care for alone. It’s how we had space to take in these two calves—and the reason we can say “yes” the next time someone like Lenny or Freddie needs our help.

Freddie and Lenny are alive today because people saw them as individuals, not commodities. Now, they can help people see other cows as we see them: as beautiful, playful, and sentient beings who value life and those they share their lives with.