Orphaned calves and foals in semi-natural herds in the Netherlands
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Dutch nature areas should become more natural as they are now. To help this process, large herbivores, such as Konik horses and Galloway cattle, are used. These animals are all property of different nature organizations. Working with these animals brings the following problem: orphaned foals and calves. Per year, approximately 1 % of the foals and 5% of the calves becomes orphaned. There are different ways to handle this problem: leave the animal were you’ve found it, adoption, raise it yourself, give it away or euthanasia. Which choice is made depends on the animals’ vitality, the current season and the age of the animal. Non-vital foals and calves can best be euthanized. Chances of survival are small, even with human interference. For vital foals (<3 months), adoption is the best option. A foal can best be raised by a mare and adoption is quite successful. If not succeeded, the foal should be euthanized. If raised by human hands, it takes a lot of time for the person involved and results can be disappointing. Vital calves (<9 weeks) can be given away or raised by hand. Foals (>3 months) and calves (>9 weeks) can stay with the herd. They deserve extra attention from park rangers. If their situation deteriorates, intervention should be made. Animals with an age of 6 months or more can stay in the herd without any problems.