Vacaville cattle farmer welcomes twins, rare white calf
Len Granger, 85, bottle-feeds “Gabe,” a two-week old calf, at his small farm off Midway Road in rural Vacaville. Gabe isn’t albino, but his cream-colored coat is a rare lack of color to spot among the Grangers’ herd of brown Herefords.
Jessica Rogness — The Reporter
Len Granger, 85, bottle-feeds “Gabe,” a two-week old calf, at his small farm off Midway Road in rural Vacaville. Gabe isn’t albino, but his cream-colored coat is a rare lack of color to spot among the Grangers’ herd of brown Herefords. Jessica Rogness — The Reporter
By Jessica Rogness, The Reporter
POSTED: 10/02/17, 6:23 PM PDT | UPDATED: ON 10/02/2017 0 COMMENTS
Gabe, a 2 week old calf, is attracting attention because of his cream-colored coat. His mother, and the rest of the herd, are brown or brown and white Hereford cattle.
Jessica Rogness — The Reporter
Gabe, a 2 week old calf, is attracting attention because of his cream-colored coat. His mother, and the rest of the herd, are brown or brown and white Hereford cattle. Jessica Rogness — The Reporter
It’s been an eventful summer at the Granger’s small farm.
With one cow giving birth to twins and another producing an all-white calf, Len and Margaret Granger have had their hands full.
“It’s a very rare thing,” said Len Granger of the cream-colored calf.
That’s because his herd is Herefords, brown or brown and white in color.
“Gabe,” on the other hand, does not have even one spot of brown on his fuzzy body.
The last account of a white calf born from brown parents that Granger could find was several years ago.
“2009, they had one born in England,” he said, showing a printed copy of a news article published in The Telegraph.
Granger, 85, said although he has a small herd, it’s been full of surprises. He bought 20 acres of land between Vacaville and Dixon in 1960, and has farmed beef since 1983.
On a recent morning, he was trying to coax the herd — four cows, a bull and four calves — toward his house with what he calls “cow candy” — alfalfa cubes.
Gabe was corralled by himself close to the house. The Grangers need to bottle-feed him four times a day with special cow’s milk they buy, and he sleeps in the garage at night to keep him out of the cold.
“The boy down the street, Gabriel, helped pull it,” Margaret Granger said. “So the calf’s name is ‘Gabe.’”
They watched him closely after he was born Sept. 22 — he had a fever of 102.8 degrees and needed antibiotics.
Gabe was the first calf for his mother. She rejected him, so the Grangers stepped in and started caring for him.
That doubled the number of calves they were hand-feeding.
“The one that had twins abandoned one, so we had to bottle feed him,” Len Granger said. The twins, one male and one female, were born about four months ago.
Granger said he has been talking to farmers with larger herds in other states about Gabe. Among such a small herd of Herefords, he’s learned it’s unusual to have a calf with no other color.
Students from the University of California, Davis will be visiting to see the little calf.
Gabe is not an albino, Granger said, pointing out that he does not have the distinctive red eyes.
Granger thinks a Bremer cow they bred into the herd in 1983 might be where the cream-colored gene came from. The recessive color can stay dormant for many generations, he said.
Along with their cattle, the Grangers raise chickens and a vegetable garden on the 10 acres they keep. They decided to sell 10 of their 20 acres some time ago.
Granger said he gives away vegetables, eggs and about 1,000 pounds of beef to friends and his church each year.
He isn’t concerned about making a profit off the products nowadays.
“I don’t charge for anything,” he said. “I give it away.”
The Air Force retiree regularly writes newspaper columns about fishing and his Christian faith. He has collected these short stories in three paperback volumes of “Len’s Lines.”