Quick-changing Calves

Opie two weeks ago

Jersey bull calves often change color as they mature. They are almost always born a soft chestnut brown, looking like big-eyed fawns. (Katika’s own calves are usually dark chocolate, given her mixed heritage.) Gradually most darken with black points. Many purebred Jerseys end up with black faces; some even appear, from a distance, almost entirely black.

In  my experience, the color change most often starts along the topline. The longer hair along the spine grows in black and over time the rest of the coat darkens to match.

A few years ago, my bull calf Charlie, named for the movie star Charles Bronson, was an exception. One day black circles appeared around his eyes. For a brief moment of worry, I thought the calf was unwell. Over the next week the circles deepened and darkened, giving him a louche and dissipated air, as if he were suffering from a monster hangover.

My elderly friend Allen exclaimed, “He’s even startin’ to look like Charles Bronson!”

Now Opie is following the same path. The hung-over look has passed and he’s turning darker by the day.

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