For Farm Sanctuary resident Stanton steer, every day is Valentine’s Day.

Stanton has so much love to give that he literally shows his heart to the world! In fact, that perfect heart-shaped marking on his forehead is much more than just decoration: It’s a symbol of the love that transformed him into the happy, confident boy he is today. Stanton survived cruelty as a calf, but in spite of his difficult past, it’s clear that he now has nothing but love for everyone he meets.

At Farm Sanctuary, Stanton is part of a loving family that includes adoptive mom Jackie, “aunt” Nancy, and “cousin” Charlie. In their peaceful new life at our New York Shelter, this family is surrounded by the love and care of their herdmates and doting caregivers. But for Stanton, Jackie, and Nancy, life was not always this way.

When rescuers first learned of their situation, Stanton was clinging to life. He, Jackie, and Nancy were among a group of desperate bovines who’d been forced to live in a barn so filthy that nine calves had actually drowned in the muck. In fact, Stanton was found resting his little head upon a friend who had tragically passed away before help arrived.

While Stanton is a Holstein steer, most of the cattle in the barn were Ayrshires, a breed that the farmer raised and exhibited for show. These Ayrshire cattle had won prizes for their “owner,” but were treated very differently behind closed doors.

Stanton had joined this group just a few weeks earlier, after being purchased at auction. Babies like him need their mothers, but Stanton had barely known his own. Since male dairy-breed calves like him will not grow up to produce milk, they are typically sold in infancy for veal or beef, or even simply discarded. Farmers separate vulnerable calves from their mothers in order to sell the milk for profit instead.

Stanton relaxing at Farm Sanctuary after recovering from his ordeal.

Without the immunity-boosting colostrum he would have obtained from his mother’s milk, Stanton grew very sick, very quickly. To make matters worse, the appalling conditions on this property only exacerbated his situation. Stanton was fighting for his life — and without intervention, he would not have much time left.

Thankfully, rescuers from the Large Animal Protection Society (LAPS) removed the group from this scene, and many of the survivors came to Farm Sanctuary to get the fresh start they needed. Some of them would stay with us permanently, while others would go on to loving forever homes through our Farm Animal Adoption Network (FAAN). Assuming that his recovery went well, we planned to place Stanton with one of our FAAN members. But before long, Stanton would make it clear that he was already home.

Stanton with new mom Jackie.

Jackie and Nancy, two adult cows from the rescue, were to remain with us at Farm Sanctuary (where Nancy, who’d arrived pregnant, would soon give birth to son Charlie). Jackie took an especially strong liking to Stanton; she even began to lactate and nurse the young calf, and before long she had taken him on as her very own. Since we wouldn’t break up this newly bonded pair, Stanton, too, would stay with us at our New York Shelter! He grew very close with Jackie and Nancy, and the love they share has helped all of them heal from their great ordeal. Once Charlie was born, Stanton began to pay that love forward as he showed his new friend just what Farm Sanctuary life is all about!

Peacefully grazing with your family: One of the simple pleasures made possible by the power of sanctuary.

These days, Stanton loves spending time with his new family, as well as the other bovines in our main cattle herd. While he was once understandably shy around humans, he now shows his love for everyone he meets! One of his favorite ways of demonstrating his affection is licking our legs in greeting; since cattle bond by grooming, this is his way of welcoming his human friends into the herd. We’ve loved watching him blossom from a timid, frail calf into a joyful and loving young steer. Safe for life at Farm Sanctuary, Stanton and his family are truly #BetterTogether!

This Valentine’s Day, we invite you to celebrate love in a new and meaningful way by sponsoring Stanton or another of our featured farm animal valentines! Your one-time donation will help support your sponsored animal’s happy life at sanctuary and make all of our rescue, education, and advocacy work possible. As a sponsor, you’ll receive a special digital valentine featuring your new animal friend, which can be printed for yourself or given as a Valentine’s Day gift to a compassionate loved one!