Lee Pitts: Conflict of Interest | TSLN.com

Lee Pitts: Conflict of Interest

Ever since I caught my sister's Hampshire show pig flirting with one of my Suffolk ewes I have collected photographic evidence that animals don't always confine their love interests to members of their own specie. I have made a lifelong study of trans-specie entanglements and knowing this, friends and readers have sent me pictures of cows nursing goats, goats nursing calves, and hogs breeding heifers. Or at least trying to.

In Chicago there was once a very brave and famous dog that was foster mother to a bevy of lion cubs and in the October 16, 2006 issue of the Fence Post magazine there was a picture of a goat nursing a kitten and a Hereford calf sucking a mare. I've always wondered when the mare looked back and saw a calf tugging at her flank if she thought, "Rats, another year I won't be the mother of a Triple Crown winner."

I must admit that there have been instances where deranged individuals have used computers to create photos of suck-ups that were fake. For example, a newspaper once ran a questionable portrait of an elephant letting a baby mule nurse, but I think this cartoon was more of a symbolic political statement about Democrats and Republicans than it was about real animals.

Sadly, animals aren't the only ones who get conflicted and confused. There have been photos of a woman in Venezuela suckling a dog and a woman in this country nursing a bear cub. Although I applaud her bravery, I do wonder if she has mental health issues.

I think you'll agree, as stockmen we should not be encouraging such disturbing animal behavior. It's our responsibility to keep species separate, but NO, we graft a Longhorn calf on an Angus cow or a baby Suffolk on to a Southdown ewe. Or we'll use a Holstein cow as a recipient mother for an Angus embryo. You just know that the haughty Holstein on giving birth to a beef animal will say to herself, "I must have been drunk out of my mind on that blind date nine months ago." And I feel for the calf when it figures out it was adopted.

I think it behooves all of us, humans and animals, to know our place in life, but sadly, we don't. For example, a sicko friend of mine in Gardnerville, Nevada, once sent me a photo of a Hampshire boar trying to breed a young, innocent crossbred bovine. I know pigs are optimistic creatures by nature but he wasn't getting that job done without a stepladder. It would be like a Texan shacking up with someone from Massachusetts. You just know Mother Nature is not going to let something like that happen.

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I find such animal behavior appalling and I can unequivocally say that when it comes to pigs, they are simply swine. There are 1,800,000 named species on earth and I think every one of them has been approached by a roguish boar. Hogs seem to have a special fondness for sheep and there is even a breed of hogs called Herefords. I don't even want to know how they got their name.

It's not just domesticated animals that are trying to suck the wrong mothers or engage in disgusting behavior with yaks and buffalo. I'm quite sure coyotes have considered mating with sheep in order to raise their own food source and zoos are veritable sin castles for bored wild creatures with too much time on their hands. Or should I say paws and hooves? Years ago at the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species in Miami, Florida, a lion and a tiger showed what can happen when two species live in close proximity and have a fatal attraction for one another. I'm a little confused about all the details but it seems a Tigon or Liger was born. You just have to wonder about the intelligence of a zookeeper who would create a thousand pound animal that can run 50 miles per hour and can eat 100 pounds of meat in one sitting. Run for your life!

You think we have problems with predators now, it will be the end of the cattle and sheep industries as we know them if endangered wolves ever figure out how to mate with endangered grizzlies.