Wandering Holstein gets bum steer into rescuers arms

Published 11:03 pm Saturday, August 8, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — A cow may have jumped over the moon, but this steer only got as far as the ravine off Symmes Creek Bridge at Chesapeake. There he hunkered down for a well-deserved nap until the rescuers arrived.

However, a nap was the farthest thing from the minds of the village fathers who were faced with a unique dilemma. They knew where the beef was; they just didn’t know what to do with it.

The saga of the wandering Holstein started around 7 p.m. Thursday when a call went out to Chesapeake Mayor Dick Gilpin that a cow was wandering around the Chesapeake Bypass.

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However since that is outside the village limits, Gilpin’s helping hands were hogtied. But soon the steer was taking in the sights of downtown Chesapeake so another call went out to Gilpin, this time around 1 in the morning. Apparently the beast had seen all it wanted of Chesapeake and was headed out of state via the Robert C. Byrd Bridge.

A few hearty souls dragged themselves out of bed to join Gilpin in the chase, finally corralling the steer in the brush by the Ohio River.

“It bedded down there and called this home,” Gilpin said.

Next a call went out to Bill and Ed Pratt, who run the Pratt Dairy Farm in Getaway. As seventh generation farmers and dairymen, the brothers know a thing about cow psychology. But they brought some reinforcement just in case: Ed’s wife, Trena, and their daughters, Hannah, 11, and Haylee, 8.

The first thing in outsmarting a cow is to know its flight zone. Since this was obviously a young animal, possibly around 6 months, that was an easy assessment.

“Dad told us to stand by the river and say if it was coming our way,” Hannah said. “I was really excited.”

Hayley teamed up with her big sister and helped chaperone the steer up the bank and into a waiting trailer. There it huddled in a corner watching gawking bystanders and media. By 2 p.m. Friday, the animal was safe.

At first, Bill Pratt thought the steer might be one of theirs, but the orange ear tag with the number 30 was on the left ear and the Pratts tag the right ears of their cattle.

Right now, the steer will remain quarantined on the Pratt farm, away from their other animals, as a precaution against any possible ailments it might have.

Then they’ll wait to see if anyone claims the animal, whose docile nature aided his rescuers.

“It could have been very difficult,” Bill Pratt said. “You don’t too many chances if one gets away.”