Dave and Kristi Tveten’s cow, Tucker, has a family ancestry that goes back six generations to the  early 1990s. Tucker is one of the largest cows on the Tvetens’ dairy farm.
PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA
Dave and Kristi Tveten’s cow, Tucker, has a family ancestry that goes back six generations to the early 1990s. Tucker is one of the largest cows on the Tvetens’ dairy farm. PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA
    Editor’s note: Dairy Star will recognize a cow each issue that is special in the eyes of its owner. From high production and components along with longevity to a good-natured cow with quirky habits, we want to know about a cow that stands out in your barn. To submit a cow for consideration, email krista.k@dairystar.com.

    LEWISTON, Minn. – A walk around Dave and Kristi Tveten’s dairy farm will usually result in seeing one cow that is almost always peeking out the end of the barn. While many people’s glance might glaze over this cow’s personality traits, the Tvetens know she is a special cow named Tucker, waiting patiently for her morning breakfast or her visits with the grandkids.
    Dave and Kristi Tveten milk 40 cows on their fourth generation dairy farm near Lewiston Minn. They started dairying July 4, 1977, and are currently in their 42nd year of milking cows. One of the oldest cows in their herd is Tucker, a 9-year-old grade Holstein. The Tvetens consider Tucker to be one of the best in the barn.
    “It’s heartwarming to watch the kids with this cow,” Kristi said.
    Tucker’s family ancestry goes six generations back to the early 90s “T” cows, the family line of cows with the name starting with the letter T. With a family line known for longevity, Tucker’s dam, Trinket, was born in the early 2000s and gave birth to Tucker at 9 years old. The Tvetens didn’t immediately know Tucker was going to be a cow that would stand out from the herd, especially since she was only shown at the fair one time.
    “She’s one of the best cows, production wise,” Dave said. “That’s probably why we still have her around.”
    As Tucker grew older and the Tvetens became grandparents, they started to notice a change. Tucker developed a loving and endearing relationship with the grandkids. Many grandkids were scared of the big cows in the barn. But Tucker’s gentle nature helped silence their fears.
    “She’s just a totally different cow with the kids,” Kristi said.
    The black and white bovine is also gentle enough to allow the children to attach the milking unit, including the almost-3-year-old.
    “She’s taught just about every one [of the grandkids] to milk,” Kristi said.
    Tucker has her own special spot in the barn.
    As one of the larger cows on the Tvetens’ dairy, Tucker had a hard time getting up in the stall. She would injure her legs almost every time she tried.
    “She sticks her feet straight out like a donkey,” Dave said.
    It is why the Tvetens put her in the pen on the end of the barn where she laid normally. Come milking time, she walks into the barn and stands in the alley waiting to be milked.  
    Living in the pen all by herself, Tucker gets used to the special treatment. From being curried and brushed by the grandkids to getting her own bed, Tucker refuses to let other cows into her pen. She even gets her own pasture area in which she can eat grass and walk around. She also enjoys taking a tour of the farm yard while the pen is getting cleaned as well as opening the sliding door to peek out into the barn, spying on everyone who enters the barn. One of the grandkids even named all his toy cows after her.
    “She’s by far the No.1 [cow] in their eyes,” Kristi said.
    Although Tucker is one of the friendliest cows in the herd, she has had a few bumps in the road over the years. In addition to her difficulties with the stalls, she has had twice. While she normally calves sometime in the fall or early December, this year she calved in April and came down with a bad case of mastitis.
    “She just quit milking. I had to pump her to keep her energy up,” Dave said.
    Tucker dried up and refused to eat. With the grandkids loving Tucker as much as they do, 3-year-old Jorli insisted on getting medicine for Tucker. After Jorli made the delivery, Tucker was able to eat food after 10 days and feel better once again.
    Tucker usually takes about two breedings in order to get pregnant. Out of the seven calves she has had, two have been female, Tillie and Twister. Twister, her first calf, is 7 years old and a lot like Tucker. Tillie is still just a calf.
    Dave plans to breed Tucker back once again, hopeful for another heifer.    
    The Tvetens agreed they never plan on selling Tucker and will probably bury her on the farm when the time comes.
    “I couldn’t be here if she left, the grandkids would hate me,” Dave said.
    She won’t be the first one. Their daughter, Jacki, had two show cows they also gave special burial rites on the farm.
    Tucker’s relationship with the grandkids turned her into a legend in which the     Tvetens hope to continue.
    “Milking or not, she is going to stay here,” Dave said.
    The cow that was once an ordinary show cow has grown into a permanent fixture of what makes the Tvetens’ dairy farm so unique. Her unique personality is what makes Tucker stand out from the rest of the herd.